It was in 1996 that gamers were first introduced to the dark world of Deception on PlayStation. The game was very different from most everything else on the market, focusing on trapping and killing humans who entered a mansion. That lineage has been carried on throughout multiple sequels spanning the PS1, PS2, and now, PS3 and Vita. No matter which version you choose to go with, the basics are always the same. In order to enjoy Deception IV: Blood Ties you must revel in sadism, black humor, and be one cruel, creative player.
Those who have previously played Deception I to III or Trapt already know what to expect from Deception IV. However, it’s doubtful new players have much idea about what awaits them. This is a game about luring people into your lair only to slowly kill them with a series of traps. At the start you are provided a small library of traps. With these, you get to choose where they should be place, when to activate them, and if it’s worth trying to string together combos for each.
At its core the game is all about score so it is very easy to start chaining together trap effects. It’s entirely possible to catch an enemy only to slice them with a pendulum, send them flying, then smash them with a gigantic boulder. The main limit is the player’s own imagination (oh, and the trap selection). Attaining higher scores is not only fun but also offers rewards. Successful completion of attacks and stages gets you currency that is used to unlock more traps. There are other items to unlock, such as special skills and costumes, but overall the focus is on traps.
Whenever you land a successful hit or chain it is graded across three styles: Elaborate, humiliating, and sadistic. Getting points attributed to one or more of these categories is wholly dependent on traps used. If you use silly things like rakes and pumpkin heads then the humiliating factor will go up. You’ll often be awarded elaborate points by using stage-specific kills. Sadistic points are pretty easy to recognize as they tend to come from the most obvious torture traps (saws, spears, etc).
One of the most enticing aspects about Deception IV is how it lets players come up with monstrous machinations all on their own. After working through tutorials (if you choose to), a trio of daemons will suggest things to do but none of that is required. Of course, bowing to the wishes of Caelea, Lilia, or Veruza does provide benefits. For one, completing their tasks shows the player with point bonuses. It’s also important to have high scores in each of their categories as buying new traps is dependent on your existing levels.
Every chapter includes a variety of people to dispose of, as well as a tidbit of story to explain all the murder. At the start it might seem a bit easy but that changes soon enough. After a few chapters, new character types are introduced that aren’t simply mindlessly meandering into traps. For example, some may move in strange patterns, use magic to attack from afar, or a variety of other things. This makes it hard to try and rely on one strategy all the time. Of course, to have the most fun with the experience you should always be thinking up new methods of destruction anyhow.
There are a handful of ways to play beyond the chapter-based story mode. First, there is a free mode which allows you to practice deadly combos whenever and however you want. A mission mode with 100 missions is also included. Missions task players with completing specific tasks, some of which impose restrictions on time or traps. Most interestingly, there is a mode where you can create your own stages with specific goals. Players are encouraged to upload and download these levels from other PSN users. All the extra gameplay styles are locked by default but don’t take long to unlock. All you have to do is pass some of the first few chapters to gain access to them.
The Vita experience of Deception IV appears mostly on par with its console brethren. Unfortunately, a little is lost in translation. For one, the text is quite small. Since the voice acting is in Japanese, you might have a bit of trouble reading the story segments. Graphically there is also a weird slapdash feel, as sometimes the game appears very modern and other times it might pass for a PS2 title.
Another issue is the imperfect controls for setting up traps. When in trap mode, the game pauses and gives a top down grid view of the area. Laying traps is relatively easy except when you need to switch positions between two. Once a trap is laid it is used up, meaning another can’t be dropped down. But since there is no easy way to switch trap order, you’ll often find time wasted by removing your otherwise excellent trap list just to get a new one to trigger first. Considering traps are the main facet of gameplay these moments really dampen the fun.
Much of the fun of Deception IV comes from what you make out of it. There are multiple ways to string up infinite combo traps, but doing so reduces the game to its most boring aspects. Playing requires a willingness to be creative and also a taste for ridiculous gore. If neither of these are true for you, then this is definitely not the game to play. Anyone who enjoys brainstorming new ideas, however, will be enthused by the library of vicious traps at your disposal. Whether played on Vita or PS3, Deception IV: Blood Ties is set to teach a new era of gamers about their inner sadomasochists.
Version Reviewed: PS Vita