In an effort to be as transparent as possible, I will admit that this is my first foray into the Deception series. It spans over 10 years and dates back to the original PlayStation; I had never actually heard of it before Deception IV: Blood Ties. As a first timer to the series, the strategy of placing traps throughout the world intrigued me in the beginning but unfortunately that intrigue faded rather quickly.
In Deception IV you aren’t taking control of some angst ridden teen, however you are filling the shoes of Satan’s daughter, Laegrinna. You are not alone though, as three servants accompany you on your quest to gain back the 12 fragments passed down by the 12 saints who imprisoned Satan. While you are doing this to attempt to revive your evil master, you are also dolling out a lot of punishment to the saints descendants. The story is there and it’s not particularly bad, but it also falls short of really dragging you in and making you invested in the whole quest.
If you were ever curious what it might feel like to be stuck inside a Home Alone movie, however with much more blood, gore, and death, then Deception is about as close as you will probably get. Minus of course the Christmas setting, the little kid, the robbers, and all that other nonsense. The core gameplay mechanic is to lure in mercenaries ranging from sword wielders to gun toting nuns, and then set up all sorts of devious traps to hurt their feelings with. On the surface it is one hell of an idea and works better in my opinion for the on the go gaming of the PlayStation Vita as opposed to the PlayStation 3. The game is broken down into Chapter’s, which are then broken down into short missions, boiling down to kill this set of mercenaries, then kill this set.
You will have three different kinds of traps at your disposal, with each trap representing the personality of one of your three servants. Sadistic traps are ones like spikes and saws. Elaborate traps are your springboards or bear traps. The humiliation traps are those like the banana peel and the ever awesome rake. Each servant will give you various ideas throughout each mission that they want you to complete, like using a specific trap or luring the enemies into a specific room. Doing these will earn you extra experience points that you can use at the end of each chapter to buy new traps, abilities, or costumes. At the beginning of the game you can only take about 3 traps into the missions with you, however as you progress into the game, you increase the number of traps to take with you.
As you run through the building you have lured the mercenaries into, you are able to run from room to room, finding the best spot to lay out your traps. Each room also has built in traps that you can also knock enemies into, like a furnace in the shape of a bull or a huge melting pot. All of these built in traps work on not only your enemies but also yourself, so you have to be careful to know your surroundings as you run around the room attempting to trap your enemies. Your character also has 2 abilities that can be assigned, such as heal, dash, or auto defense. These skills add yet another strategic aspect to each battle that you get into.
Enemies also come in all shapes and sizes, all different kinds of attacks as well. You will have hulking knights that swing heavy weapons your way, archers that try to hit you from a distance, magic users, and ninja like characters that flip around the maps and attack from every angle. You will also be fighting multiple enemies at one time, making for some really hectic fights where you are setting traps, dodging enemies, and making sure you don’t get hit by trains running through the levels or any other built in traps. Thankfully, as you go to set traps, it pauses the game, letting you take your time to properly place your trap. However, be careful as when you actually spring the trap, it stops your player and leaves you open for someone else to attack you. Some enemies are also immune to certain traps, so you will need to find their weakness and exploit it.
Now I know you are probably reading this and thinking this sounds awesome. Well, it does sound awesome and in small spurts it can definitely be fun, but in the big picture, it loses steam really quick. The game let’s you set up an elaborate combo of traps for the victims to fall into, but most of the time it is quicker and easier to just put up a springboard and knock him into a built in trap, doing so much more damage. In fact, most of my levels were spent running around waiting for the enemy to step over my one trap, knock him into the oncoming train, and repeat. After the first few missions, I found my time in the game pretty boring, even with some new enemies that popped up. Levels can be made even easier by equipping the auto-dodge ability, allowing you to not even pay attention to enemies half the time. The strategy is there in the game if you want to take the time and setting up the combo’s of traps can be satisfying to watch, but the player is given too many easy ways out. I found myself often setting up some elaborate traps, it not working, then moving on to setting up something easy to kill them quickly.
Outside of the main story, you can also try your hand at free battles, letting you set up your own scenario and also letting you download other people’s created scenarios. Players can also take part in one of the over 100 missions included in the game. These are very specific, giving you certain weapons and enemies and adding a lot of difficulty to get them completed. These modes provide a lot of extra depth beyond the story, if you want to keep playing past the story mode, which I found myself not too excited to do.
Blood Ties won’t win any visual awards either, as the levels are a dull palette of colors and most enemies look rather bland. The main character and her three servants receive a fair amount of attention and really stand out in front of a rather drab world. The voice work is actually pretty good, but will not work for some people as it is all in Japanese, with English subtitles. The screams from enemies when they get impaled by a trap and the traps themselves make great noises and really lend itself well to the game. Even though I stated earlier that the story was rather boring, the interactions with Laegrinna and her servants actually provide a little comedic relief to help out the story.
Deception IV: Blood Ties is one of those games that wants you to spend a fair amount of time setting up traps, but then gives you ever chance to skip all that and easily defeat each level with minimal investment. The traps are all unique and fun to mess around with, and the built in traps of each level provide a lot of chances to hurt your enemies. The story is rather forgettable and the environments are rather ugly to look at, but looking past that, the game can be fun in short sports. There is truly nothing else like it on the market, which should help it stand out among other games, but only if you want to put in the effort.