Tecmo KOEI’s Deception IV: Blood Ties is a unique game in that it’s an action game with no direct combat, a game that relies on you to tactically place traps around the game’s numerous stages and then use your character as bait to lure unsuspecting foes into these torture devices.
The Deception series started life on the original PlayStation in 1996, and although this release has the number four in its title, Deception IV: Blood Ties is actually the fifth game in the series.
In the game, you play the Devil’s daughter Laegrinna who is sent on a quest by her father to find an incantation which rid the land of the Devil’s evil 3000 years ago. This incantation was separated into twelve fragments called the Holy Verses by the twelve Saints that banished the Devil and passed down the bloodlines to each of the Saints’ descendants.
To aide Laegrinna in her quest, the Devil spawns three Daemon servants – Veruza, Caelea and Lilia, who each embody the essence of Sadistic Torture, Elaborate Death and Humiliating Demise respectively. Whilst there seems to be a lot there to take in, worry not. The game does not rely too much on the story, with it seemingly a mere excuse to provide a reason for the gameplay and the amount of chapters in the game.
There are 12 chapters in the game, one for each of the Holy Verses. These chapters are spread out over four different locations in which you dish out the pain to the enemies you encounter. Each location has its own character, with the Castle and the Amusement Park being the best of a drab bunch, mostly due to the variety of environmental traps available for you to make use of.
These 12 chapters do not offer much variety. I found myself getting bored very quickly with the repetitive nature of the game. Each chapter is divided into three short waves, with an aim to defeat each wave until the chapter’s boss reveals himself for you to mutilate and retrieve a piece of the Holy Verses from him/her. One thing I would have liked to see included in the game would be the ability to save your progress after each wave. Even though the waves only take five to ten minutes to complete, if you do decide to put the game down mid-chapter and play something else for a short while, upon your return to Deception IV, you are forced to start from the beginning of the chapter you last played. This only added to the repetitiveness and banality of the gameplay.
Each character you enter battle with has a name and a background, but when you are simply fighting the same four-five character models with different coloured clothes and hair then this becomes irrelevant as any individuality these foes would like to have is smashed to pieces by the overused, repetitive appearances of the ‘knight’, ‘wizard’ and ‘villager’ you battle
Once you are introduced to your bait, you then go about lacing the various rooms with the numerous traps at your disposal. The goal is to lure an enemy into a trap and then set the trap off with the hope of starting a combo that will rack up the score depending on how humiliating, sadistic or elaborate your traps were. Now this does sound like fun, but with no incentive to mix and match what traps you use, I found myself using tried and tested traps to down my victims.
All is not doom and gloom for Deception IV: Blood Ties, even though the previous paragraphs do certainly paint that picture. Although the game’s story is short, there is plenty to do once it is complete with a mission mode available, with missions unlocking as you progress through the game. I found that these missions were a lot more fun than the main storyline, as there is a sense of urgency and reward for completing them. Each mission (there are 100 currently available) sets an objective to kill a certain number of enemies in a certain fashion within the time limit. By having the criteria set for me by the game, I found that I experimented more with the different traps that were on offer because they were forced upon me. Although that doesn’t sound much fun, it meant that I had to be a lot more creative with what I had at my disposal.
Deception IV is, at times, a beautiful looking game. The main characters and traps are designed with great care, and look great. It is just a shame that the attention to detail that has been given to these characters and traps has not been shared with the cast of enemies or even some of the areas that you do battle in. Deception IV’s soundtrack is great, with background music that suits each scenario that you are in, whilst also having a slightly creepy undertone which I think adds a great deal to the atmosphere of the game. The characters all speak in Japanese with English subtitles, which is something that I always like to see as I feel that it fits in perfectly with the style of this game.
The control scheme is simple, which is not a bad thing, and allows for you to devote all your attention to the screen so that you can perfect your timing when setting off the various traps that you have laid. Timing is crucial in this game. If you do miss with a trap, you will have to wait a few seconds for it to reload before you can use it again. There are extra abilities available to your character which you can unlock and map to the face buttons, such as the ability to heal or sprint, but these didn’t seem to add much to my experience with the game and although I unlocked extra abilities as the game progressed I stuck to the original three abilities that I unlocked at the start of the game.
There were a few things that I did not get to try in Deception IV: Blood Ties. The game has a few online features that were unavailable even on the morning of the game’s North American release. The first of these is the Online Leaderboards, whereby you can compare your stats with other Deception IV players around the world. The second is Cross Quest mode, this allows for you to create your own sadistic missions for other players to do battle with and also to download missions that other users have created. On top of these two online features, the game is also Cross Save with the PS3 version.
Although I feel that these are worth a mention, I do not feel that they would have any impact on my final thoughts of the game.
Deception IV: Blood Ties was a game that intrigued me when I first heard news of its release on the PlayStation Vita. The idea of setting traps and using your character as bait was a concept that I thought offered promise. However, unlike the enemies in this game, Deception IV’s concept is poorly executed. The game’s story mode does not offer any depth, with the Missions mode the one redeeming feature. The traps are great to use and experiment with but as mentioned before there is little incentive to differentiate in the main story. Deception IV: Blood Ties started out with promise, but quickly turned into a painful, monotonous experience that I cannot recommend.