Deception IV reminds me of bad horror movies; while you know you won’t get an incredible story, there is a certain thrill and entertainment to be had at the misfortune of others. Deception IV is about brutalising your opponents with no inhibitions. Definitely not for the faint of heart, this game, much like the bad horror movie, provides gory entertainment combined with cheesy writing.
Players take on the mantle of the devil’s daughter, Laegrinna, who is born from a fragment of his soul. With the advice of three scantily clad female demons, one each representing a different kind of torture (humiliation, elaboration and sadism), Laegrinna must fight waves of enemies in order to retrieve 12 Holy Verses and break the seal of her father and give him the freedom he desires.
Deception IV plays much like a puzzle game mixed with tactics-style elements. In direct control of Laegrinna, players are tasked to set a series of traps over a grid format in order to kill those who seek to destroy her. Traps are her only weapon, and some may find this jarring at first, as there is no way to actively fight against someone who manages to get past those well-laid traps, though the game supplies ample tutorial points and in-story advice on how to best manage this. The traps themselves range from the silliness of banana peels to the more hardcore ceiling of spikes, and if laid out correctly, can lay incredible devastation upon any opponent who dares take you on.
Most enemies will follow Laegrinna everywhere she goes, and leading them into traps is generally a simple task until you come across “boss” characters, who seem to be a little less stupid, and take some rather elaborate strategies to defeat. As an example, the only way I could find to take down a certain character was to lay a banana peel and a rake on the floor in front of a large molten crucible. Knowing they were there, the AI carefully dodged these traps, only to be smacked by a wall I needed to activate, which in turn pushed the AI into the crucible, dumping her into the molten steel below. Not quick to die, the AI got back up, only to be hit by a swinging blade I had waiting, then be thrown by a spring loaded trap onto a rake, and then having a boulder roll down a set of stairs and roll over her for good measure. This only took half of her health, and she knew better the next time, I had to think of a new plan to finally defeat her. In saying this, the game’s focus really is on being as sadistic as possible, with bonus experience points for more elaborate sequences of traps, and so generally speaking the enemies are never so smart that you can’t essentially wallop them with whatever your sadistic creativity leads you to do.
Experience points are used to purchase abilities for Laegrinna, and, you guessed it, more traps! Laegrinna can unlock new moves to assist with dodging enemies, healing herself and stunning enemies for a short period of time. There are over 50 traps within the game, and this variety opens up a lot of new combinations to eviscerate all that stand in your path in many unique ways.
If all this sounds a little too heavy for some, I will say that that is a fair call; there is a lot of heavy content in this game, but there is also a light-hearted side that will make you giggle as well. While the traps that focus on the sadistic promotes a rather violent end to foes, the humiliating traps are there to tell you that Deception is there in the context of good fun. Giant mallets, banana peels and dropping pumpkins over your opponents’ heads to obstruct their vision only scratch the surface of the humiliating ways you can deal with your opponents, and such insanity may well open the game up to people who otherwise wouldn’t even care to understand what Deception IV is about. Another aspect that softens the blow of killing what may seem to be innocent or even heroic people on the surface is the use of Laegrinna’s “Devil Eye” ability. This allows players to read a short description of a foe when first introduced, and on the basis of most of those descriptions, offing these specific people is often a public service.
Deception IV’s environments in general do a decent job of creating an alluring place to leave your traps. As mentioned above, you are encouraged to lay elaborate sets of traps to befall your foes. This idea is complimented by stage traps and trap mobiles. Stage traps are devices already set in the stage and range from columns that can be pushed over onto the enemies to cages that enemies can be launched into for bonus points. Trap mobiles, meanwhile, are large moving objects in certain areas of the stages. These traps come in a range of forms, from steel crocodiles to large locomotives and can deal huge damage and add to your combo count if you are clever enough to integrate them into your own set-down traps. Occasionally, if you meet certain criteria, the trap mobiles can reward you with an elaborate and exceptionally gory death sequence for your pleasure/ distaste.
If it sounds like there is a lot going on, there is, and on occasion you may find that it’s hard to keep an eye on it all. Especially frustrating are times when you run directly into an off-screen trap while attempting to escape an enemy. Enemies are also able to hit you while you are down as well, and with no real way to quickly escape, it can be frustrating to be unable to do anything but sit back and watch Laegrinna be wiped out.
If you can’t enjoy torture in your entertainment, Deception IV is definitely not a game for you. But if slasher horror is a pass time for you, then this game will entertain with its cheesy dialogue, over-the-top traps and a lot of blood and gore. As a game, it plays like a mix of Pipe Mania and Final Fantasy: Tactics, though it falls short of being as great as those two were at release. This isn’t to say Deception IV is a bad game, far from it! What you have here is an incredibly unique game, and that makes it worth struggling through the occasional frustration.
– Brad L.