Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Deception IV: Blood Ties (PS3 & PS VITA)

Rarely ever does a gamer get to fulfill the role of an absolute evil character. Usually there's some sort of hero out to end the evildoer's reign of terror, and bring peace to whatever kingdom it is that they hail from. In the case of "Deception IV: Blood Ties" you'll be taking on the role of a very special femme fatale with such an evil persona. This scantily clad demoness of whom I speak is none other than the Devil's daughter herself. She is literally a living part of the master of darkness's soul, and as such has inherited his evil nature. Along with the aid of three other female demons this lady of the damned aims to resurrect her father by collecting twelve holy verses from the descendants of twelve fabled saints who locked him away in his own unholy dungeon in the first place. This biblical-like scenario is anything but "good" though. As the Devil's daughter (Laegrinna) you'll either succeed in your quest to end mankind's reign, or fail in the process.

Deception IV, as it were takes in account Laegrinna's quest to gather the twelve holy artifact fragments, and start the world anew under the command of her father. The holy artifacts in question have each been passed down through the ages to the descendants of the twelve saints who had initially bound the beast known as the Devil in his eternal prison. In order to obtain the twelve holy verse fragments Laegrinna (The Devil's Daughter), Caela (The Daemon of Elaborate Death), Veruza (The Daemon of Sadistic Torture), and Lilia (The Daemon of Humiliating Demise) must work together to setup traps for the proper persons of interest within the buildings that they take up house in. By spreading rumors to towns folk, and luring them to their ultimate doom these four evil ladies will reach their goal in no time at all assuming all goes according to plan. As far as death dealing goes the method by which they end each humans' life can be as intricately laid out as they desire, or as quick to the point as possible. As long as they get the job done all is good, so-to-speak. With the hazard filled rooms, the Diabolica traps, and abilities in hand the warriors of men stand no chance against the foursome's evil scheme.

Gameplay, Mechanics & Such ...

When you first begin your playthrough of "Deception IV: Blood Ties" you will notice a main menu filled with locked, and unlocked features. There's a "Story" mode, a "Free-Battle" mode, a "Missions" mode, and even a "Cross-Quest" mode. As with any new JRPG experience Tecmo Koei includes a step-by-step tutorial mode amongst these main menu options. The tutorial, which is there for your benefit will get you properly acquainted with the many different in-game mechanics should you opt to take it on. The methods by which you set, change up, activate traps, and trigger stage traps are all explained in great detail. Not only is an in-depth explanation given for each feature, but an interactive demo of each scenario as well as second playthrough without help is provided, so that you can fully understand the gameplay at hand.

While the "Tutorial" is a crucial part of understanding the game as a whole you can choose to skip it entirely if you wish, and get directly into the gameplay. I do advise against doing such a thing though as you will no doubt be lost without the obtained knowledge. Even if you go against my advice you will find that the game really stresses the importance of learning it's mechanics, and will press you a second time when you get into the game's main "Story" mode. When you're ready to begin your trek into darkness the story at hand, which is the core of the game's experience will shed light on Laegrinna, and her helpful trio as they combat the forces of good, or not-so-good in some cases. After learning the ropes of the game you will have to use the multi-room building that you currently reside in as well as your traps to deal death to those who would wish to pursue you.

The Traps in "Deception IV" which are what this game is all about are used to setup combos in a sequential order (1-3 etc., ...). At your disposal you will have a select number of traps that are divided by type, and made accessible via the (CIRCLE) menu. There are floor traps which are meant to slowdown your pursuer's progress, there are ceiling traps used to inflict extra damage, and there are wall traps used for triggering stage traps as well as inflicting damage from a distance. Combining these traps in a proper order is where the real challenge comes in. You must always take in consideration the enemy's attack patterns as well as their weaknesses when laying out your trap arrangement. Some enemies you'll encounter are immune to certain traps, and must be tricked into falling for other traps in order to end their miserable little lives.

By opening up the trap, and info menu via a press of the (CIRCLE) button you can find out all you need to know about your enemy as well as select, and organize your traps accordingly. The enemy's bio plus attributes, and weaknesses are all shown compliments of the pre-game "Devil's Eye" feature. When you first begin an encounter the option to engage the "Devil's Eye" will be presented. All you have to do is press the (TRIANGLE) button during the cinematic intro, and you can read all about the enemy you're about to face as well as gain an understanding of what it will take to defeat that foe. Not all enemies are created equal in Deception IV, and learning what to do about what enemy is a must if you hope to come out victorious. In fact you'll find that some enemies wear armor that must be broken, and that some will shoot projectiles which can end Laegrinna's reign of terror in a hurry.

Laegrinna, while seemingly immortal can also meet her demise from her own set traps, and the enemies that surround her. As such you will need to learn how to evade each enemy properly, avoid traps, and learn how to lure the enemy onto the start of your trap combo so that you can execute the enemy thoroughly. At your disposal you not only have traps, but you also have abilities that will help you replenish your life as well as trigger different reactions from your enemies. Mastering the use of abilities, and traps is a must if you hope to survive the more difficult battles within the game's various modes.

When it comes trap combos there's a lot more to it than just ending your enemy's life. Not only can you end their life/lives with a well delivered trap combo, but you can also weaken them to a point that you can send them sailing into a trap for capture. While capturing your enemy has it's own benefits in the game it will also reward you points accordingly. You must always keep in mind that everything you do in 'Deception IV' regarding the traps, and the triggering off them is a score based ordeal. By executing a trap properly you will be given points. These points come in a variety which include basic "ARK" points, Capture points, and points based on the types of traps that you used. In the game each trap used is associated with either Caela's, Veruza's, or Lilia's inherent nature. By using these color coded traps you will earn either "Elaborate (Caela)", "Sadistic (Veruza)", or "Humiliating (Lilia)" points. All the points earned within the game are important mainly, because they allow you to purchase new traps, abilities, and costumes after you've gained enough of them.

Aside from the "Story" you will also unlock three other modes of play that can be enjoyed before, or after you've finished the game's story mode. These modes include "Free Battle", "Missions", and "Cross-Battle". The "Free-Battle" mode which is made available shortly after you begin your playthrough of "Story" will allow you to practice, and perfect your trapping skills in any of the stages you have completed in the "Story" mode. Settings in this mode can be tweaked to your liking to a certain extent. Things like the type of enemy, and the room location can be altered. It should also be noted that once you execute the enemy, or enemies within you can save your replay, and upload it directly to your own Youtube channel from your PS3 console. The same goes for replays saved from your "Cross-Quest" playthroughs.

As with "Free-Battle" the "Cross-Quest" mode can be tweaked to your liking. The location, room, and Diabolica types (Traps &Abilities) can be setup for you, or other online players to enjoy. Unlike "Free-Battle" though you set the rules, and must pay with in-game points to upload it to the game's main server for it to be judged, and enjoyed by the online gaming community. Once you've played through your own "Cross-Quest" creation, or someone else's you will be able to save the replay, and upload it to Youtube if you so desire.

The last (second on the main menu) mode of play that you'll unlock is "Missions". In missions you must complete battles according to preset requirements. These requirements can include time based playthroughs, the execution of certain traps, and even certain finishes. It should be noted that in "Missions" you will earn additional ARK points for spending on traps, and abilities. While the ARK points you earn here pale in comparison to what the story mode has to offer you do gain the advantage of unlocking extra traps for purchase later on.

About the graphics & sound ...

The graphics in "Deception IV" vary from console to console. The PS3 version, which is my favorite happens to have much better graphics than the PS Vita port. In it the details shown are definitely more visible. Things like Laegrinna's shimmery back tattoo show up better on the PS3 than they do on the Vita. As far as sound quality goes both consoles have about the same quality. The intro, which is lacking in the music that one would expect from an anime cutscene is toned down greatly on both consoles. The stage, and room music however is more prominent, and provides a thematic soundtrack that truly compliments the mature action that is taking place onscreen. Also the accented screams of pain, and agony expressed by trapped persons greatly amplifies the game's overall theme on both consoles.

Conclusion ...

Deception IV: Blood Ties is a devilishly fun game on either console you choose to get it on. The gameplay which is all about traps, and mortal execution allows the player to indulge themselves in a mature world in which death delivery is the main theme. The enemies that you'll encounter which range from aggressive to sluggish types will give you the proper challenge that you seek, and will allow you to execute the perfect trap setup which can then be shared with the world (via Youtube). While the gameplay is the simplest I've seen in a JRPG experience it is still so in-depth that it will no doubt have you intrigued enough to find out how the story ends as well as return for more torturous fun later on. The added fact that there are multiple endings to view which all depend on your trap execution, your captures, and the enemies who have escaped makes returning for multiple playthroughs a must. The amount of replay value contained with in "Deception IV" is truly impressive in that respect.

As far as the best console version for you goes that will depend on your love for either the PS3, or the PS Vita. The PS3 version, which is my favorite costs more to buy, but does look better visually. The PS Vita version on the other hand is only slightly lower in visual quality, but offers the player the same gameplay as the PS3 port with exclusive on-the-go access which could not be enjoyed if you only had the PS3 version. Both versions have virtually the same gameplay, and in my personal opinion are each worth the asking price. The good thing about owning both versions, should you go that route is that they have a cross-save option allowing you to continue the same playthrough on either Playstation platform. I know not everyone will want to put that much money into the game though. Either way be sure not to miss this one as it is one heck of a JRPG experience!

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