Review: Derpy's Story

Derpy's Story

Unlike many other fandoms My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has a very large and dedicated game developer community centered around it, and they have poured out an absurd amount of fan games. One of the things that it has not seen much of in its relatively short existence are good, complete story-centered games. Video games as a storytelling medium are on the rise, although nowhere near the level of films and books, and certain games (such as Limbo and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP) have  been called art by many individuals.

Today we have come across a recently completed fangame titled Derpy's Story, and it promises to be a short but sweet tale told through the form of a video game: a rare thing in this fandom. Does it live up to expectations? Find out in our review after the break.

In Derpy's Story the titular protagonist is lost within the depths of the Everfree Forest when she becomes aware some bubbles floating through the air and decides to follow them. The player controls the bubble cluster with their mouse and guides Derpy through the forest, helping her avoid dangerous obstacles and timber wolves along the way. The reason behind the bubble's behaviour is never explained in-game, although this is probably for the better as it adds to the game's mysterious atmosphere.

Screenshot of Derpy's Story

Amosphere is probably the most important aspect of Derpy's Story, and for that it succeeds immensely in feeling like a real forest after dark. Screenshots alone cannot convey how beautiful this game looks; it must be seen in motion for the game's gorgeous art direction to become apparent. The bubbles slowly orbit each other, casting a circle of comforting light and subtly illuminating the dark environment around it. Each area of the forest is lovingly crafted and has a hand-painted look that is highly unlike anything I have ever seen before in a Flash game. The cutscenes, while not quite up to the rest of the game, are still quite impressive and feel quite adorable. Not entirely necessary, but still a nice addition to the product.

Even with the game's visual beauty it is the audio that really makes it truly great. With the music off the forest feels almost lifeless and cold, but when it is turned on the game becomes alive. Owls hoot in the distance, the trickle of streams can be heard when you near them, and crickets chirp. The atmospheric soundtrack enhances the feeling of being lost within the depths of a forest after nightfall, but gives off a glimmer of hope that inspires you to keep moving and follow the light. I really cannot stress enough how important it is to the overall game, but it is highly recommended that you play this game with headphones to take full advantage of the game's wonderful soundtrack.

Another screenshot of Derpy's Story, featuring the titular character crossing a stream.

From what has been said so far it seems like this is a perfect game, right? Not so fast. Thankfully the game has been patched to remove many of the bugs in the initial release, although these fixes are exclusive to the version on our Arcade. Unfortunately there are still a couple issues that hold this game back, one of them being the game's damage system. Upon coming into contact with something nasty such as a timber wolf Derpy will panic and begin to fly around randomly in fright, ignoring the bubble's light for a brief period of time. This can cause Derpy to run into other dangerous obstacles while the player's control is taken away and cause even more lives to be lost then is really necessary. Upon loosing all lives the player is not taken back a level, but forces the player to start all over again, which is tedious and might convince some frustrated players to quit prematurely. The game itself is also quite short, and while for the sake of the story this is probably for the better it still feels like the game could have been much, much more if only a couple more levels were added to the final product.

As you could probably tell I liked Derpy's Story very much. The atmosphere was fantastic, the gameplay was fun, and the minimalistic story made this game into what I think is one of the best fangames that I have ever come across. Sadly it was held back by some frustrating control issues and its rather short length, so as much as I would love to give it a higher score I'll have to rate this game at 8/10.


Hope you enjoy the game!

- Tuxxy

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