Deemo is the sort of game that keeps coming back. The Rayark Games title is known for its expressive original music, fanciful presentation, and most importantly its heartfelt story. Now, Deemo Reborn has brought the rhythm game to a whole new platform. While it employs the same sort of progression method, it feels like an effort has been made to give even more context to Alice’s experiences.
In Deemo Reborn, a young girl named Alice wakes in a circular room. There are odd glyphs on the wall, a tree sprout, a piano, and an oddly-proportioned shadow-person named Deemo. She doesn’t know what she’s there or how to get out. But, she does quickly learn that Deemo is quite the musician. As songs are played, the tree grows higher to an open space at the top of the expanse. Motivation to keep playing songs comes from knowing you’ll learn more about Alice and Deemo, discover the truth about their situation, and acquire more music.
The difference here is how much players can do when you’re not playing through Deemo Reborn songs. After stepping away from the piano, Alice gets to explore the space around her. This initially means you are limited to a single room. However, as you help the tree grow and Alice become accustomed to the area, you get more opportunities to interact. You can hear her take on different elements in her environment. You can influence them. Taking the time to go around means acquiring more music.
Basically, this means there are puzzles. None of them are ever too trying. Rather, they’re easily to deduce. If you have a mystery to solve, say by arranging books on a shelf or getting an item to use in a certain space, everything you need is right in front of you. You will never have an item that can be missed and lock you out of progression. You will never have to visit multiple rooms in this underground area for an answer. You also will never spend too much time solving any puzzle. Rather, they are a complement to help give you more time with Alice in her new situation and see the insights of a little girl who would like to figure out what is going on and hopefully go home.
This isn’t to say the music doesn’t matter. It is closely tied to everything that happens. Playing through songs and succeeding causes the tree to grow, just as it did in the original. Growth means changes in the world around Alice. This means more places to explore and opportunities for exposition. This leads to more music. Not to mention the PlayStation VR element, as Deemo Reborn lends itself well to the PlayStation Move controllers. For a game about playing a piano to clear songs, gripping hold of these motion controllers can feel like a more modern day version of those toy store pianos you’d play using your feet.
It is like with Deemo Reborn, we have a version of the game that really embraces what made it unique. This was a title that was notable for how well you got to know Alice and her predicament, combined with the progression that came from playing songs and performing well. The additional adventure elements here add depth I didn’t know I wanted from a game that already was good at involving more emotional attachments.
Deemo Reborn is available for the PlayStation 4. It is PlayStation VR-compatible. You can find the original Deemo on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, and both Android and Apple iOS devices.