I have been a fan of the Deception franchise since Tecmo’s Deception: Invitation to Darkness released for the original PlayStation in 1996. In that game you play as a servant of the devil and are tasked with defending ‘The Castle of the Damned’ from all manner of heroes and adventurers who are unfortunate enough to enter. The gameplay was in the 1st person perspective and to defeat the enemies the player had to set traps to either stun, kill, or capture the intruders. My preteen self enjoyed the dark story and unique (at-the-time) concept of playing as the ‘bad guy’. Fast forward to today and it has been 9 years since the last Deception game. This week Deception IV: Blood Ties released here in the United States and became the newest entry in the franchise. Does Deception IV: Blood Ties stack up to its predecessors? Keep reading our full review to find out!
In Deception IV: Blood Ties the player takes on the role of the Devil’s Daughter Laegrinna. Laegrinna is tasked with finding the 12 Holy Verses which will allow the Devil to return and rule the world. Laegrinna finds these Holy Verses by luring the keepers of each verse to her and either capturing or killing them with traps. Laegrinna is assisted by 3 Daemon servants each of which represent a different kind of trap. The Daemons are: Veruza (Sadistic Torment), Caela (Elaborate Death), and Lilia (Humiliating Demise). The story is played out between levels with Japanese voice overs and English subtitles. The Deception series has always had a story with dark themes, but the ‘good guys’ in the game are always portrayed as corrupt or evil in their own way. Much like other game franchises (Disgaea for example) that portray you as the evil character, the story and themes takes itself seriously to the point where it actually becomes a bit comical. In any case, the story is fairly inconsequential and in all honesty seemed to only serve as an excuse to change the setting and introduce new enemies.
As I mentioned above, the entire game is about setting traps and luring enemies into them. There are 12 chapters in the game and every chapter is divided into 3 different waves of enemies. Every 3-4 chapters Laegrinna and her helpers will move to a new place in search of the Holy Verses thus allowing the theme of the levels to change. Some of the locales you will see are Castle, Factory, and Carnival (My personal favorite). As the theme of the level changes you will have access to several different rooms that have their own built-in traps and hazards that you can use to your advantage.
At the beginning of each level Laegrinna will start in a room with 1 to 3 different enemies. It is then up to the player to set different traps to damage, stun, or move the enemy. Just like the 3 Daemons, the traps come in 3 varieties: Sadistic ( Examples include: giant spikes jutting out of the wall or boulders dropping from the ceiling), Elaborate ( Examples include: Walls that move to push the enemy where you want them or giant springboards that will launch enemies to other parts of the level), and Humiliating (Examples include: banana peels on the floor or pies in the face). Within these 3 varieties of traps there are 3 placement categories as certain traps can only be placed on the floor, on a wall, or on the ceiling. While it is possible to defeat the enemies by drawing them into once trap at a time it is more effective to set traps so that it can create a combo. Through trial and error it eventually becomes clear how to effectively chain traps together.
Once the traps are placed it is up to the player to control Laegrinna (3rd person perspective) as she moves around the level with the goal being to lure the enemies into the traps. Traps do not automatically activate so it is up to the player to hit X when the enemy is in range. Enemies come in many varieties from slow-moving armored knights to speedy assassins. Each variety of enemy will change their behavior in some way, but for the most part enemies will move toward Laegrinna in a straight line. In many instances I found the enemy AI to be very simple and easy to exploit (Hint: Set traps in doorways and enemies will have no way of avoiding them as they will always come through the door closest to you). I did notice that as enemies were hit with the same trap multiple times they would begin to learn where the traps were placed. Luckily you can adjust your trap layout at anytime so it is possible to move and change traps if necessary.
As I mentioned above each chapter is divided into 3 different waves of enemies, so once a wave is completely defeated you will be given a results screen before the story moves forward leading into the next wave or chapter. The results screen will detail how much experience you earned from using the 3 different kinds of traps, combo length/variety, and meeting Daemon requests (for example: reach a 15 hit combo). You will also receive Ark (basically an in-game currency) which when combined with Experience will allow you to unlock more traps to add to your arsenal. It is worth noting, however, that you are only able to unlock and select your traps between Chapters, not waves, so it is important to think through your selections carefully.
While the story portion of the game is only between 8-10 hours there are several other modes that add to replayability. All experience/Ark/unlocks are usable across all of the different modes so you are constantly unlocking new things for the entire game, not just the story. In Cross-Quest you are given the ability to create quests/level for you to play and you are also given the option to upload them for other players to try out as well. This mode also allows you to download creations from other players and there is even a rating system so that you can see which user-created quests have been rated the highest by other players. Free Battle Mode is basically a practice mode that allows you test out different enemy and trap combinations to help you prepare for the other modes. In Mission Mode you are given a specific goal to reach in a set time limit. While not exactly a game mode, the final mode is Museum Mode and this allows you to view unlocks and other information. Also in Museum Mode there is a PlayStation 3 specific function that allows you to upload replays of levels to YouTube.
Conclusion and Recommendation
I truly enjoyed my time with Deception IV: Blood Ties. While I was playing the game, I was quickly reminded why I have enjoyed the Deception series for so long. I look forward to going back into the game and finishing off the different missions and exploring quests made by other players. If you enjoy playing as the ‘bad guy’ and like over-the-top trap setting action, then this game would be right up your alley.
Recommendation Level: High!
*Deception IV: Blood Ties was released on Tuesday March 25, 2014. It is available for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita (Version Reviewed) at both retail and on the PlayStation Store*
Will you be picking up Deception IV: Blood Ties? Have you ever played any of the other games in the Deception franchise?