Beginning nearly 20 years ago on the original PlayStation, Tecmo’s Deception is a much lesser known series about letting your masochistic desires run rampant. Fans of these niche games have waited quite some time for the fourth entry in the saga. The good news is, the wait is over. Entitled Deception IV: Blood Ties, players will find themselves stepping into the role of the Devil’s daughter. The daughter of darkness is no joke, as she employs the services of three demon mistresses to lure enemies into complex and sometimes even gruesome traps.
The powers of elaborate, humiliation, and sadistic are your tools in this strategy-focused action game. In your castle, you are the ruler, but many people wish to take you down or simply they have wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time and so it is your job to fight back, with traps. The game takes place in the third-person perspective, with the ability to move around freely, but with no way of defense (unless you pick the easy difficulty). With no ability to attack your enemies, you must avoid them while setting up traps that will unleash a horde of terrors when they step into the wrong place. Timing is key here, as not only must you manually set off traps when the time is right, but you must also be careful to not accidentally catch yourself in the crossfire. There were several times, especially early on, that I mistakenly launched myself in the air by my own springboard. It was amusing, of course, but also enlightening. The game does a good job of pacing you to the point where you are a Rube Goldberg-like pro.
With things like boulders, swinging axes, pumpkin heads, banana peels, and so much more at your disposal, the options for carnage are nearly limitless in Deception IV. There is no mistaking the fun that can be found in being the bad guy. However, the length of the game itself is rather disappointing. The story mode represents the bulk that the game has to offer, with completion in just about 10 hours. The fun doesn’t have to end there, though, as free modes where you customize and create your own scenarios and the ability to download player-generated content, enhances and expands your experience. Not to mention that catching someone in a bear trap and knocking them into a wall of spikes is a great way to relieve stress and frustration on a hard day.
The actual main story mode takes place over multiple chapters. Containing a very informative tutorial for new (or old) players, the game doesn’t just throw you in with no guidance. At the beginning of each chapter, you are introduced to your enemy(s) with a short scene or conversation, describing how or why they ended up at your humble abode. From there, things get nasty as you are thrown into real-time combat with the ability to pause time to set up traps. During the actual gameplay, you have the option to zoom in onto the NPC and actually gain a little bit of info on them, like name, stats, and even some background about their character’s life. Despite all this, the gameplay just feels shallow. There was clearly a lot of detail and depth given to the trap mechanics, but other than that, this is a very average game. There aren’t any major technical hiccups, but there aren’t any marvels either. The presentation is typical, graphics are outdated, and animations are very simple. The localization is done alright, with no real noticeable errors and the original Japanese voiceovers, thankfully, are left intact.
However, everything just screams average. Sure, there are a ton of gags and giggles to be found in Deception IV, but I never felt like I absolutely needed to play this game. What’s amazing though, is that the euphoria I gained from planting a successful trap kept me always coming back for more and that is Blood Ties’ redeeming factor. You’ll keep wanting to play this game and not really know why. There is just an innate, primal desire that Deception IV feeds into and it almost becomes like an addiction. The more you play, the more your endorphins go wild, and the more you need to keep playing so that you continue to feel that rush. Sadly, the downside to this is that I had to be in a particular mood to really want to play it. This is by no means something you pick up and play for two days straight to completion. This is a game best played in small, bite-sized doses every once in a while. That type of style actually lends itself really well to the PlayStation Vita, which I reviewed Deception IV on. The game is also available on PlayStation 3, in case you want to see all the gore on your big screen, but the game really does find its place on Sony’s handheld.
Overall, Deception IV is an average game with one very striking feature: it’s fun. If you go in expecting a very complex and lengthy game with AAA production value, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you go in knowing what this game really is and that being a very fun, niche, and unique Japanese game, then you will be rewarded with hours of addictive gameplay. There really is no game like this and so if you are looking for something completely unique, be it for home or on the go, then Deception IV: Blood Ties is well worth a try.