Way, way back in 2007 we reviewed a game called TrapT. TrapT and Deception IV: Blood Ties just happen to be from the same franchise, although Blood Ties is the first of the numbered releases to make it to Europe. Thats something we dont see particularly often anymore (with the highest profile releases done in such a manner being the Final Fantasy games way back when), but then when the previous release is that 7 year old game that was met with a rather disinterested reception (it was also the last release in its native Japan), then its not really surprising that Deception IV: Blood Ties has only really been the focus of sites that pay attention to Japanese oddities.
And it really is an oddity. The entire premise of the game is that a group of heroes are trying to gain access to a variety of different locations to obtain a rare item that they feel has fallen into the wrong hands. When a group of these rare items are collected together, the devil can be released from hell. Stupidly, they carry the items that are currently within their possession into said locations with them, where you, the daughter of the devil, lie in wait with your minions and a bunch of traps that you lay down in order to bring about death and destruction and take possession of the sacred artifacts.
So Deception IV gives you the opportunity to actually play as the bad guy, couple this with some of the tools on offer and what we have here is a rather devilishly amusing little title that provides a wealth of experimentation and entertainment.
So, as the �heroes� invade your castle, manufacturing plant or any of the other locations you inhabit, you can lead them around from room to room, placing a variety of traps or trying to take advantage of the environmental elements such as trains entering stations or vats of molten steel. The beauty is that you can either lure them onto a single trap and chip at their health bit by bit or pause the action and spend time plotting out a twisted and delightful combination of devices, and as you progress through the game your options increase further.
The traps you can lay range from the humiliating (pumpkins being dropped onto heads, garden rakes on the floor) to the Sadistic wherein the idea is to inflict as much pain as possible in one go, through the Elaborate (which you can use to help bring the environmental traps into play). Thie general idea is that you try and combine all of these elements together to get as large a score for each of your victims as possible, the larger the score, the bigger your reward at the end of each chapter and the more new traps you can purchase to add to your arsenal.
The theory behind all of this is excellent and incredibly appealing. However, its the manner in which its all realised thats ultimately frustrating. There are times when you are sat through overly long conversations between characters, a problem with alot of recent games on the system, and at the beginning of each Act you are introduced to each of your potential victims, thus allowing you to find out their strengths and weaknesses. However, if you die, you have to sit through all of this again, and its certainly possible to find yourself in a position where you will have to restart thanks to the games rather claustrophic camera angles and locations which make it difficult to avoid being attacked or indeed on occassion fall victim of your own traps in some manner. This is all made even worse by the frequency at which you can save, which isn’t particularly often, what with it being at the end of each chapter, most of which last about an hour in total. Some will argue it makes the incentive to be more cautious even more important but its easy to make a mistake and for that mistake to make things harder overall and even a save state kind of save system would allowed for the freedom to experiment even further and play about in the games setting to get the most out of it.
Thats pretty much Deception IV: Blood Ties biggest issue. As a whole, the game means well, it tries to encourage you to act out some pretty dark torture based fantasies, but ultimately, due to some of the developers design decisions you often find yourself playing it a little too safe and this leads the gameplay to ultimately become a little repetetive and boring. All told then, Deception IV has some nifty idea’s and deserves more attention than it will ever gain, but its far from perfect and its flaws become frustratingly noticeable far too easily.