Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Developer: Tecmo KOEI
Platform Reviewed: PS Vita
Release date: 28/03/2014
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed Home Alone with The Pit and the Pendulum? Well, that is what you get from the recent release of Tecmo’s Deception IV. A series which is now 18 years old, the last incarnation showing up on the Playstation 2 nearly 10 years ago.
Blood Ties has you playing the role of Laegrinna, the Devil’s daughter, who is on a quest to collect 12 Holy Verses. Items which were used to imprison her father three thousand years ago. Find them all, the seal will be broken and Satan will be set free. Offering guidance along the way are three demons, Caelea, Veruza and Lilia, all servants to her father.
Whilst you play as the villain of the piece, you may be surprised to learn that you cannot attack foes directly. Instead, you rely on a whole host of ingenious traps with which you lure your victim. These are separated into three categories, Elaborate, Sadistic and Humiliation. All of which can be combined into an incredibly satisfying combo. It is left to your imagination with regards to placement of the said traps and with careful planning and a little bit of trial and error it is possible to vanquish a foe with one, well-constructed sequence.
Each room is composed of grid which means placing traps is a very simple process. Once positioned a trap will take a few seconds before it can be activated, which is done manually either by a press of a button or by using the Vita’s touchscreen. There are different characteristics to each trap, some will lock an enemy in place others will hurl them across the room, some will cause shock damage others will impale or blind. Certain enemies are more resistant to specific traps than others which encourages experimentation.
To coincide with user placed traps there are also environmental hazards which can be used to further annihilate your opponent. Rivers of molten lava, falling chandeliers, crocodiles and even a clown which use its mouth as a canon make an appearance and are a welcome addition. It is very satisfying when a carefully considered, complex layout results in a foe being impaled, crushed, stabbed and burnt in one unrelenting combination of attacks. All of which is vital if you want unlock more varied traps. Each successful attack results in an award in the form of ARK, a currency used in the game to unlock more rewards. The more complicated and extensive the sequence, the more ARK is gained. Again, this encourages variation and experimentation.
Graphically Deception is competent, it’s not pushing the Vita to limits by any means but, it is certainly not an ugly game. The colour palette is a little bland and the repetitious use of enemies can lead to the whole experience feeling a little stale after a while. This is complemented however, by the excellent soundtrack. The original Japanese voice acting has been retained and the sound effects which accompany each stage are splendid. The sound of well-timed traps scything through flesh and the screams of anguish are all very gratifying, if a little disturbing.
To complement the story there is also a mission mode with 100 standalone challenges with various objectives. Whether you are tested to kill a foe within a strict time limit or slay them with a particular trap or sequence, each getting progressively harder than the last, this will keep you going for a while. There is also a Free Battle mode where you can arrange your own scenario to practise and experiment until your heart’s content or, if you so desire, download other people’s created scenes, a great addition if you have friends up for the challenge.
Yes, graphically, it could be better and the save system should be more user friendly, particularly for a handheld. It is also possible to complete each stage with one well-placed set of traps but, to be honest, if you’re doing that way you’re missing the point. If you can forgive or ignore Deception IV’s minor shortcomings, you will find it has a lot to offer.
Reviewer – MrBadDog