Deception IV: Blood Ties
The Deception series has always been a favourite of mine, though I never thought in my wildest imagination I would be getting a game in the series after Trapt. It’s not the Deception series’ fault, though, but rather some circumstances surrounding it. For one thing, Japanese are nowhere near as popular in the West as they used to be. Another reason is that the Deception games, despite being great fun, are very much a unique type of game, and that in itself can be dangerous in the game’s industry. Despite all these, we gamers are extremely lucky to have a new Deception game, ‘Deception IV: Blood Ties’ just released on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. All those human sacrifices must’ve paid off…
You can be forgiven for not knowing what the Deception series is, and for that reason, I will quickly explain its premise. Deception is a series where the player cannot defend themselves against waves of intruders, but can set deadly traps for them instead. When these traps kill the enemy, their souls are sacrificed to a devil, with the player being awarded Warl(currency) for their efforts. A skilled player will link these traps together to form combos, leading to even more Warl rewarded. The series is particularly dark, though there is also a sense of comedy in the game, especially in Deception IV: Blood Ties. Parents, this game isn’t for young children though you yourselves might laugh yourself silly at shooting people out of cannons into fireplaces.
Before I get into the heart of my review, I would like to say this: some other websites have stated that Deception IV is “offers the same gameplay as the rest of the series”, apparently without any evolution or refinement. Those people need to have a boulder dropped on their head, because there is plenty new! As a Deception fan, I couldn’t be happier with Deception IV: Blood Ties.Deception IV casts players as the Devil’s daughter, who under the guidance of her three witch guardians, will learn how to bait and trap human sacrifices in order to resurrect her father. 12 saints sealed away the Devil in what came to be known as the Holy Verses, and Laegrinna (the player) has to obtain the verses in order to accomplish her goal. Throughout her dark journey, Laegrinna will encounter many enemies. Each has their own motives, but their fates will be Laegrinna’s to decide.
When I first fired up Deception IV, I was pleasantly surprised by an anime cut scene intro. It looks fantastic, and really got me excited to start the game. The rest of the game’s story is presented with still anime images met with voice acting. It feels a lot better than the almost goofy in-game cut scenes of Trapt, and it allows for much more dialogue to be presented to the player without feeling overwhelming or long-winded.
Gameplay-wise, series regulars might feel they already know what to expect in Deception IV: Blood Ties, and while they might know the basics, there’s a couple of exciting changes to the formula to take notice of.
Like previous entries in the series, Deception IV sees players unable to directly attack their enemies, but rather setting traps around the game’s various locales. There are ceiling, wall and floor traps as well as environment traps that can be combined for maximum damage and score. While Deception IV offers the standard three-part combo to begin with, players are free to create their combos from a mix of wall, ceiling and floor traps. For example, you can have three wall traps, two floor traps and a ceiling trap, or any other combination you desire. Where Deception IV really has me hooked though, is the fact you eventually unlock additional combo slots, meaning you can have three, four, five or six-part combos (get excited, Deception fans!)
Unlike the other Deception games though, there are now trap mobiles in place of Trapt‘s Dark Illusions, which are pretty much the same thing, though without being secret and frustrating to trigger. The earliest trap mobile you encounter, is a knight/chariot automaton, which drives around its area in a big loop, able to hit players with its weapons and run them over. When an enemy with low health his hit by a trap mobile, a QTE (quick-time-event) begins, with a successful input completing a deadly sequence of events. The chariot knight uppercuts your enemy into the air, and they are then impaled on a spike that adorns the nearby fountain.
In addition to the trap mobiles, Laegrinna can also unlock various abilities to aid her in battle. These aren’t anything too spectacular but they do make a difference and can help players pull through a particularly difficult level. Some of these abilities penalise the player though, so be careful before you buy and use them. Healing can be used three times per level, and doesn’t penalise the player at all, but auto-dodging will result in the player earning half the Warl they would without it. There’s also dash, which allows Laegrinna to sprint away from her enemies, a defensive roll, and the enrage beam, which causes the enemy to recklessly run into traps.
In addition to the game’s story (which is pretty lengthy), there are also other numerous game modes:
- Museum Mode – where you can watch recorded replays of your missions and even add laugh tracks, screams and cheers to them before uploading them to YouTube. A pretty cool feature!
- Cross-Quest Mode – where you can create your own challenging missions and share them with Deception IV’s online community, or choose to download other player’s created missions.
- Free Battle Mode – here you can create missions with any rules you wish. You can even have duplicate enemies, and place enemies in any level you desire. A great mode for practicing with your newly-acquired traps and learning new combos.
- Mission Mode – Mission Mode sees the player clear a variety of challenges. Some are simple, and some can be pretty complex. Some can take a while to complete, and others have extremely short time limits. A great mode for honing your skills.
I only take issue with a few things in Deception IV, the first being the frustration felt from some of the lengthier story mode missions. You can literally spend an hour or two trapt (See what I did there?) on the same level, because there are times where every time you kill an enemy, another enemy or group arrive at your location to kill you. One mission looked as though there would only be three enemies to face, but I ended up killing around 9, some of the enemies proving to be quite difficult. When this happens, it makes you question whether or not to play another mission, as you may end up stuck unable to save for another hour or two.
Another annoyance (and this didn’t annoy me as much previous Deception games) is the constant interruption you will face when playing. If someone enters the level, dies, escapes, or takes off their hat the game feels the need to show you a close up of whatever they are saying. Sure, a lot of these are welcome or satisfying (particularly when you defeat a really annoying enemy) but they can also cause you to miss the timing of arming your traps, usually resulting in you receiving a broadsword to the back of the head. They can also stop you from running away from an enemy, and if you aren’t quick on your sticks, you will probably be set on fire, lose direction or receive a broadsword somewhere else.
Visually, Deception IV: Blood Ties is a dramatic leap forward since Trapt on the PS2. While this may sound obvious, far too often Japanese developers lag behind in the visual department. Deception IV might not wow people like other recent titles, but it is a decent looking game, with a balance between normal 3D graphics and cell-shading, the cell-shading complementing the anime-style cut scenes.
- A unique take on action-strategy
- Rewarding and fun game play
- Dark and disturbing, should appeal to fans of games like Manhunt.
- Lengthy missions can be frustrating
- The camera can be testing on occasions
Deception IV: Blood Ties stays faithful to the series’ roots while offering a few welcome tweaks to the formula. Deception fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of the game, as should inexperienced gamers looking for a different type of strategy game.