Deception IV is… an interesting game to try and explain to the uninitiated. The fourth game in the franchise sees you take control Laegrinna, the daughter of the Devil himself, who is trying to, alongside three demon heroines representing elaboration, sadism, and humiliation, restore him to full power so that Hell on earth may be unleashed. All of these female figures are extremely well endowed and, as if to further emphasize that, really rather scantily clad.
If that sounded bizarre, the actual gameplay is even more so. You’d think as the daughter of the king of evil, you’d be able to lay everything to waste in a game that would mechanically resemble Devil May Cry or Bayonetta… but you can’t. As a matter of fact, you can’t attack anyone at all, which makes Deception IV an action game with a twist. You see, your way of interacting with the world is by setting up elaborate traps and leading would be heroes trying to prevent the return of the Devil to their maniacally, gleefully, elaborately bloody deaths.
You’d think that would get boring soon… but it doesn’t, especially thanks to the three different ‘tech trees’ that you get- each of the heroines that I mentioned above also represents a kind of trap you can set up. Elaboration traps are, well, elaborate traps, and they are usually used to trigger other traps, creating a really complex series of elaborate setup, that usually lead to chained combos and multiplied points; sadism traps are the most straightforward ones, and they deal in brute force damage (and are in fact how you will damage your quarries the most throughout the game); finally, humiliation is a mixture of elaboration and sadism, where you make an elaborate trap that deals out a lot of damage, and lets you relish in the action that ensues.
The great thing is that each kind of trap is well represented, and there is a stunning and staggering variety of traps on offer, especially when you consider the sheer permutations and combinations that they can be used in. And you will want to use them in conjunction- your task is to set up traps to eliminate would be heroes, as mentioned above. This can technically be done simply enough (although even then, you’d need a series of sadism traps to deal out enough damage), but if you want to maximize your score, you want to make the deaths more spectacular.
This variety is further enhanced by the fact that the environmental traps are world specific- there are four different worlds in the game, each with its own theme, and each presents its own specific environment based traps. This unpredictability, along with the endless array of traps on offer, keeps Deception IV feeling fresh.
What also keeps the game working is how dynamic and good the enemy AI is. They’re not stupid pawns being uselessly hurled into your machinations, and they vary their behavior a lot of the times. They will notice you and try to attack you, which might derail your original plan a little as you try to defend yourself- because again, outside of cursory dodging and running, you don’t actually get any ability to defend yourself- you need to improvise and cook up a trap on the spot to defend yourself.
If all of this sounds like a fun game, that’s because it is. The only problem is that Deception IV demands from its player a lot of patience. You need to carefully and painstakingly set the traps up (which may not even always work as intended), with your active agency limited to either setting up new traps when there is a hitch in the plan, or trying to defend yourself when something happens. Setting up new traps in itself requires you to pause the action, which might break the immersion for you. And yes, sometimes, it can get tiring even for the most patient player, as you repeatedly have to pause the action to set up a new trap. But on the whole, it works well, especially given how unparalleled the feeling you get when your setup goes perfectly is.
Really, that’s all there is to Deception. It’s an action game that requires you to be quick on your feet, although in an entirely different way than the reflexive response driven acton games that dominate the genre. It requires an appreciation for graphic deaths, it requires the ability to plan and strategize for the long time simultaneous with the ability to improvise when something goes wrong. If you are that kind of player, you will really love what Deception IV brings to the table- especially since it brings so much of it. The main campaign itself rounds off at around a dozen hours, and then you’re given a challenge mode and a free battle mode. You also get a map editor, that lets you not only create your own arenas, but also share them online and download others’ creations for free, greatly adding to the length of the game.
Really, it’s a very well done package, and is especially recommended for players who are looking for a substantial experience with some depth. It lends itself to repeated playthroughs, and it’s a very different kind of game than the stuff we usually get. It’s not the best looking (or sounding) game in the world, but ultimately that doesn’t matter- it’s an addictive, cerebral game unlike anything else on the market, that is thoroughly recommended for people looking for an action game with a unique twist.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.