Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Deception IV (PS3) Review

One of the more unique games I played way back on the original Playstation was Deception.  Players were tasked with setting traps in a mansion to kill intruders.  It was a great concept, since you didn't fight them directly, but instead lured your unsuspecting foes into the crazy hazards you placed.  Deception IV: Blood Ties is the latest in that series, and has a similar concept: use your traps to kill foes that you have lured to their doom.

The basics for each battle are the same.  Enemies will enter your area 1 to 3 at a time, and chase you down, trying to kill you.  You can set a few traps in each room to deplete their health and kill them or force them to flee.  The game starts out really fun.  One target at a time allows you time to make combos and easily fulfill the daemon's requests.  Two at a time becomes harder, and three at a time can be downright brutal, especially when one of them is a distance fighter (archer, mage, etc).  Planning your traps and combining them effectively was key, so it's a shame that sometimes they don't seem to work as advertised.  It seemed like any little thing would ensure the whole trap combo would go completely wrong, resulting in frustration and probably a loss of your health.  Combine that with how little you can do to defend yourself while waiting for the traps to recharge or even fleeing to the next room ensures you have to be careful, precise and skillful to even complete the level.

After every few targets, you get a score and a small break.  Then it's back into the lair to do it again.  After every boss/major target, you get a break where you can save and buy skills or traps.  You move to a new location after a few major targets, which keeps the areas fresh, since they have new layouts and hazards to subject your victims to.  The progression can also be a hindrance, since you have to defeat several "waves" of enemies before you can save.  If you've beaten nine out of 10 guys, then finally succumb to their relentless chase, you have to do it all over again.  Very annoying, given how hard it can be to make the trap combo work right.  Also it's silly how lethal these traps look, but how little damage they do.  I can't decide if I'd prefer less targets each stretch between saves, or have more guys, but they each have far less health, so these wonderfully sadistic traps were actually menacing.  I mean, you can push a guy in molten metal, and he just comes out the bottom missing 1/3 of his health.  Not even the Terminator was that tough!

Some enemies also have resistances or immunity to certain types of damage or traps.  Resistance means they can avoid the trap, but will take damage from it if they are hit into it during a combo.  Immunity mean just that, but those enemies are wearing heavy armor, which is breakable.  Actually breaking it is another story, since each one has different traps that will break their armor.  Later ones must have all of the damage types in one combo to successfully break it.  It's rewarding when it is pulled off, but very hard to do without, again, more trial and error.

Besides story, there are a few other modes for you to test or hone your skills.  There is a mission mode that unlocks part way through the story, which tasks you with killing one or more targets while also fulfilling certain requirements.  Requirements range from doing it in a time limit, finishing a target off with a certain trap and even taking no damage.  The best mode is Cross Quest.  You can use stages and characters that you have unlocked to make your own challenge levels.  Levels are able to be uploaded and downloaded, so you can always find more or subject people to your crazy designs.  To round it out, there is also a Free Mode to practice your traps and combos against any opponent (or opponents) that you have encountered in the story.

The game has several chapters and four different endings to obtain.  It is pretty difficult, at least for me, so while it doesn't seem that long, it takes a lot of trial and error and repeating portions to be able to pass each chapter.  The trophies have a good split: some for completion, others for killing enemies, breaking armor, completing missions and playing missions in Cross Quest mode.  A decent spread and a good challenge, considering how hard it can be just to get through the story, let alone the harder missions in Mission mode.

The concept of Deception IV is so great that it's a shame the game gets so frustrating.  Landing a trap combo is so satisfying, but running around trying to get people in them is not.  If you have the time and will to master the game, there is a fun time to be had, and making your own levels and playing other people's will give the game lots of longevity.  Too bad it can be so annoying.

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