"A limited trap selection, relatively stupid AI, bland graphics and a truly bizarre story kept this title from really striking a chord with me."
Deception IV: Blood Ties caught me completely off guard. It’s the fourth in the long dormant series, but up until recently I’ve never heard of it and I definitely haven’t experienced anything like it. It takes the tactics genre and serves it up with a unique spin that blends action, survival, and puzzle mechanics to make for some relatively satisfying gameplay. It’s fun initially – exploring traps, chaining combos and watching them play out on unsuspecting victims is a total blast the first few times, but as the game progresses its sheen quickly fades. A limited trap selection, relatively stupid AI, bland graphics and a truly bizarre story kept this title from really striking a chord with me. The game’s online options did manage to extend the replayability of this 10 hour title a bit more, but because of my other gripes I doubt I’ll be revisiting it anytime in the near future.
Deception IV puts you in control of Laegrinna, daughter of the devil, who with the help of her companions lures innocent victims into traps in an effort to collect pieces of a lost relic. The story isn’t the game’s strong suit… at all. It’s over the top, ridiculous, and it ultimately fell short of making me invested in Laegrinna’s quest. Cut scenes tend to drag on, especially in between chapters, taking away from the action and bogging down the game’s shining puzzle mechanics with a convoluted storyline. Every time a new enemy was introduced, or recently killed, I was forced to watch a new cut scene offering up a pointless background for characters that were, to me, nothing more than meat for my traps. This consistently pulled me out of the combat, and frankly become quite grating. In addition, my three helpers also had a tendency to interrupt the flow of combat, offering up ideas and tips for how to massacre your enemies. These ended up being more of annoyance in my eyes, stopping my train of thought and making me feel like the game was trying too hard to make suggestions when it would have been much more rewarding for me to figure it out on my own.
"Elaborate traps quickly lost their charm as newer unlocks didn’t prove to be as useful as the tried and true older ones, forcing me to focus mainly on the incredibly damaging sadistic traps."
As I continued through the game’s story, unlocking more and more traps, I found that I was quickly bored by some of the offerings. I tended to stay away from humiliation traps, often just using the pumpkin head for manipulated movement, and found myself instead relying on elaborate and sadistic ones. Elaborate traps quickly lost their charm as newer unlocks didn’t prove to be as useful as the tried and true older ones, forcing me to focus mainly on the incredibly damaging sadistic traps. This turned the elaborate traps into more of a catalyst, a lure, a way to begin chaining together the devastation, and pretty much dropped the humiliation traps off the scope of my radar. I acknowledge that this may have been more due to my play style, but I felt like the game was a bit lacking, only presenting me with two truly practical trap styles.
"If the enemies focused a bit more on a pack mentality than the challenge would have increased exponentially, thereby increasing the game’s depth."
The AI was a bit flat as well, especially once I managed to dwindle down the numbers. As the game progressed the enemies did get trickier, emerging with immunities, armors, the ability to dodge and a few other characteristics that made them more and more of an annoyance as they tried to defeat me, but a few exploits and some quick thinking often made fast work of most of the enemy types. I couldn’t help but notice that even when the game threw various enemy types at me to fight all at once -- for instance, I would face against a ranged, armored, and agile opponent, all with their own pros and cons – they very rarely worked together allowing me to pick them off easily. If the enemies focused a bit more on a pack mentality than the challenge would have increased exponentially, thereby increasing the game’s depth.
Deception IV’s presentation is very Japanese, and will without a doubt pander to a specific audience. But, overlooking the backless dresses, bikini-clad armor, and thigh high stiletto boots, I was still left with a distinct lack of flavor. The game’s graphics are far from state of the art, and I’d be a fool to demand that from the PS3, but, given what we’ve seen it to be capable of lately with some of the console’s unbelievably beautiful swan songs, this game comes across as little more than a drop in the bucket graphically. It has a smooth framerate (at least on the PS3 version, I noticed some chugging on the Vita version when traps got elaborate), but the game itself, especially the levels, look so bland. There are tons of awesome interactive stage traps, but none of them live up to expectations, especially in the earlier levels. Character design for the most part is well drawn but poorly animated, with some characters appearing as a faceless fog. At points during the dialogue I wondered whether or not I was actually playing a PS2 game. I was truly disappointed in this respect.
"Deception IV: Blood Ties shines in terms of its gameplay, but ultimately falls short of being anything more than a unique experiment."
I had a bit of opportunity to play this game on both PS3 and Vita, and the PS3 version is definitely superior. The already mediocre graphics take a huge hit on the vita port and I experience sluggish frame rates as the action got going. While I didn’t have a particularly rough time with the touchpad mapping on the Vita, Deception IV benefits from having the more tactile feedback of a button based controller.
Deception IV: Blood Ties shines in terms of its gameplay, but ultimately falls short of being anything more than a unique experiment. It wants players to try and spend time making elaborate traps, but in the end it’s exploitable AI and easy to setup stage traps ultimately caused me to resort to tried and true tactics over and over again. Gamers coming to the title for its story and single player experience are better off moving along, but the inclusion of an online level design system and leaderboards ought to make for some interesting longevity if the community becomes strong enough.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: Playstation 3 & Vita
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: Playstation 3 & Vita