Published on May 2nd, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Deception IV: Blood Ties
Did you ever watch Home Alone and ask yourself whether it’d be more entertaining with giant, bloody traps and massive buildings? Well, you’re prayers have been answered because Deception IV: Blood Ties delivers just that. Only, instead of the main protagonist being a fortuitous little albino kid whose parents hate him, you play as Satan’s daughter, a young woman who is apparently deftly allergic to clothing. You’ll defend yourself from knights, sorcerers, and Nuns-with-Guns across a variety of lethal locations.
In many ways, Deception was made for the PS Vita – even if it is available on the PS3, too. The story is split into chapters, which are themselves split into even shorter missions. In each, you will be approached by a group of mercenaries who are in desperate need of a bashing. Lucky for you, there are a whole load of traps at your disposal. These will let you crush, pierce or just swing around your targets to your heart’s content. Set up your traps carefully and you’ll be able to chain together different implements of torture to maximize your points. You’ll even be able to use the environment as well.
At its best, Deception should offer a decent level of strategy and some fairly fun challenges. But it’s a little too sandbox for it to really shine. You could spend five minutes setting up the perfect trap, then spend another five luring the dupe onto the right square, and you’d probably have a great time doing this. Or you could use a spring to throw an enemy into a set of spikes, where they’ll get damaged and then be flung back onto the spring… which you can activate again. The most annoying thing, though, is that you’ll get a decent amount of points for the latter with less of a hassle.
Deception is very much a game that’s as good as you want it to be, it certainly gives you the tools to cause some damage. There are three different categories of weapons. Some are termed Elaborate and help you chain towards a high combo, others are Humiliating, and then there’s Sadistic. Everything you do will be rated in these three categories. Each group also has an advisor, represented by another scantily clad demon girl. These helpers will teach you everything that you need to know, and will give some challenges in each mission.
Unless you’re into scoring massive points or have some sort of sadist tendency, though, there’s not any real reason to complicate things, or even to experiment outside of the base weaponry. Enemies don’t get much more difficult, and in fact the artificial intelligence is just plain awful. You’re almost certainly going to end up outsmarting large groups without too much trouble, and the biggest threat to your health bar is your own traps. There’s nothing quite like setting up an extravagant plan only to accidentally forget to step away from the action. As you fly through the air, giant spike in chest, you’ll think to yourself: “I really should be better at this.”
For those that want to take full advantage of the sandbox, setting up long chains will be time consuming, but fun to watch when they’re successful. Some of my favorite attempts involved throwing a sad-sap knight across the room, having him meet face-to-face with a ceiling-mounted buzz saw, and then thrown into a giant vat of lava. – and that’s not even half of what you’re able to do in that section alone. Sometimes though, your trap will backfire and won’t send your victim to the right square, or they’ll twist in the air and end up facing the wrong direction. The smallest deviation can throw off the greatest, and biggest, of ideas.
That’s not to say that every type of enemy reacts to your whims all of the time. While the AI doesn’t make things difficult, there are enemies that are immune to certain sorts of traps. To reverse this, you need to remove their armor by exploiting their weaknesses, or just keep pounding on them with other weaponry until they die anyway. Again, this is a chance for the laziest of players to take the easy way out without being penalized.
Each of the characters that you’ll face has their own origin story, viewable when you first encounter them, and this adds a great amount to the atmosphere. The only drawback to this is that the people that you’ll face generally aren’t all that good. You’re supposed to be playing as the Devil’s daughter, spawn of absolute evil, and you’ll spend most of your time fighting, at best, neutral mercenaries. You won’t ever feel bad for exterminating greedy politicians or religious nut-jobs. The occasional villager that stumbles into your path will probably run away, or give you some reason to show why they deserved to be obliterated. It would have been better to fight against the “good guys”, the archetypes that make up other games, but instead you end up using your evil to stop other people’s evil.
Aside from this, the style and world that the game developers have created is actually quite memorable. The locations are varied, even within individual buildings, and give ample opportunity for mayhem. Meanwhile, the character design seems like it was outsourced to the company that invented the “Mankini”. There’s a lot of skin on display, although those that care about this sort of thing will be happy to know that both men and women have a variety of full armor types, as well as no armor at all.
There are multiple “playgrounds” in which you will be able to explore throughout the story, which is mostly tacked on as a means to introduce the next set of crazy characters trying to kill you. Each building has a number of different rooms, and you can set up individual traps in each location. This is as easy as hitting square and then placing them wherever you want them to be. They do take a second to charge, but then you can activate them from anywhere inside the room. This being, for all intents and purposes, a third-person “action” title, there are also some cool dodge rolls and more personal attacks at your disposal.
When you’re done with the main story-arch, you can move onto one of the 100 included bonus missions. These will give you specific tarts or weapons, and can get quite hard. With Free Battle, you can create your own scenarios as well, and you’ll be able to download the missions of others. There’s definitely a lot to do, as long as you’re willing to push yourself beyond the lazy, obvious options every time.
While it does demand a high level of investment, Deception IV: Blood Ties is still a rather decent game. Play lazily and you’ll have a low-quality experience, but if you work hard to create the best traps, this title lets you do things that others don’t allow. Unlike its confident main character, the release leaves its best bits hidden, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to put in the effort.
3 out of 5