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Deception IV: Blood Ties Review

Deception IV Blood Ties Review (1)

One prevalent trend in contemporary gaming is the revival of once-popular retro titles. Mercifully, the practice has proved successful enough to spur the revitalization of several lesser-known properties. Built around a premise where players constructed sequences of sadistic, violent traps, Tecmo’s Deception franchise would likely fall into that second, more obscure, category. While a bit too dark to earn mainstream appeal, the title’s ghoulish Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions were captivating enough to generate a fervent cult following. Released nearly a decade after the last series’ entry, Deception IV: Blood Ties adeptly brings the franchise up to date- modernizing the visual output, tweaking play mechanics, and adding a variety of modes in an effort to lure players into its fiendish confines.

The PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the title are content comparable, each extending an offer to learn the nuances of Blood Ties though an optional, ten-part tutorial. While the lessons take the time to explain many of the nuances, the game’s introductory stages also impart the essentials- allowing eager gamers to get right into the bloodshed. Whichever method of instruction a player chooses, they’ll discover that each stage in Deception extends a similar objective. Instead of assaulting threats directly, the protagonist lays down a variety of ensnarements designed to send assailants through sequences of agony and embarrassment-inducing torture. In execution, it’s what Konami’s lackluster Saw titles should have been.

Deception IV Blood Ties Review (2)

Giving context to the cruelty is Blood Ties storyline- told through character portraits and expositional description. Players learn that a group of twelve do-gooders have defeated the devil, binding Beelzebub with an artifact known as the Holy Verses. To prohibit the great fiend from regaining freedom, the scared text was split into a dozen pieces, with each fragment given to a safeguarding saint. As the devil’s daughter, it’s your job to lure the twelve guardians into a castle, before dispatching each one Grand Guignol-style.

Accompanying you on this endeavor are Caelea, Lilia, and Veruza- a trio of demon goddesses who represents the trinity of torture: intricacy, humiliation, and pain. Although players might assume the provocatively-dressed trio are mere fan-service, their incorporation ends up enlivening Blood Ties’ campaign. Between belittling the adventurers who walk into the title’s ambush areas and congratulating players on their barbarous behavior, the goddesses’ become provocateurs, goading players into action. Although Blood Ties has a constrained number of enemy character models, each is endowed with personality- exhibiting strengths, weaknesses, a bit of backstory and often darkly comical death quotes.

Deception IV Blood Ties Review (3)

Cleverly, this sense of humor spills over into gameplay. Although violent wall, floor, and ceiling traps are capable of inflicting mortal wounds, there are also more comical ruses- such as a plummeting pumpkin head which dazes characters or even a bit of slapstick, from a well-placed rake on the floor. Much of Deception’s enjoyment emanates from activating these devices in a well-timed sequence, sending characters through a montage of savage mayhem. Pleasingly, Blood Ties adapts the triggering techniques of its predecessors, which used the face button of a controller to set off each trap. Now, players use a single button and can switch between devices with a tap of the directional pad.

The game’s other virtue is its sense of autonomy. Smartly, Blood Ties rarely requires a very specific type of trap to exterminate an enemy. Instead, the game presents players with a pleasing arsenal, pausing the action until there are satisfied with their contraptions for cruelty. To give nuance, some foes have armor that protects against certain types of traps or inherent weaknesses, but the title rarely feels as if there’s only a single way to dispatch an opponent across the game’s four milieus. Another of Blood Ties virtues is the game’s eschewing of additional purchases. While the title is filled with unlockable traps, costumes, and perks, each amenity are earned through play rather than through pay.

Deception IV Blood Ties Review (4)

Aesthetically, the console and portable versions of Deception IV are comparable, with both offering a solid framerate and reasonably detailed environments and character models. While the larger display afforded by the PlayStation 3 iteration allows for improved enemy tracks, PS Vita owners aren’t at a complete disadvantage, with shoulder buttons are to lock onto and zoom in on moving enemies.

While a cross-buy promotion would have undoubtedly enticed players, Blood Ties offers no discount for the purchase of both versions. That said, the game does demonstrate cross-save functionality- permitting players to transfer progress via the cloud. Pleasingly, both versions extend a variety of play modes beyond the main campaign, from a sandbox-style free mode, 100 challenge missions, and even a Quest Creation mode which allows gamers to design their own scenarios. Satisfyingly, user-made stages can be shared with other players via an online component which spans both versions. Sonically, Blood Ties made no attempt at offering an English dub, which is probably for the best considering the scream-heavy dialog.

Deception IV Blood Ties Review (5)

After years of being forced to complete unfulfilling errands for bossy NPCs, being able to castigate characters feels refreshingly cathartic. Deception IV’s other indulging element can be found in the construction of diabolical traps and the succeeding performances of grisly pain. While these actions might seem a bit mean-spirited, Blood Ties’ stages are so engaging, that even the most genial gamer might relish being the bad girl for a change.

Deception IV: Blood Ties was played on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

One prevalent trend in contemporary gaming is the revival of once-popular retro titles. Mercifully, the practice has proved successful enough to spur the revitalization of several lesser-known properties. Built around a premise where players constructed sequences of sadistic, violent traps, Tecmo’s Deception franchise would likely fall into that second, more obscure, category. While a bit too dark to earn mainstream appeal, the title’s ghoulish Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions were captivating enough to generate a fervent cult following. Released nearly a decade after the last series’ entry, Deception IV: Blood Ties adeptly brings the franchise up to date- modernizing the visual output,…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 90%
Control - 85%
Aesthetics - 75%
Content - 85%
Accessibility - 80%

83%

Good

Summary : Equal parts gruesome and gratifying, Deception IV: Blood Ties has the potential to lure players into its sadistic subterfuge. Maybe it’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome- but I don’t feel like leaving anytime soon.

User Rating: 4.24 ( 4 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

23 comments

  1. Did this come out? I have yet to see a single review besides this one.

  2. “Maybe it’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome- but I don’t feel like leaving anytime soon.”

    Someone is begging to be quoted it seems.

  3. Another Japanese game gets a four star review from this site. SHOCKING!

    • There really aren’t that many sites that:

      1) Aren’t dismissive of Japanese games
      2) Don’t read like the scatterbrained writings of a teenage otaku.

    • Are you talking about the user review rating? That’s entirely reader based, not a score given by Tech-Gaming. Personally, I think it’s a positive thing seeing votes in there – whichever way it goes, it means readers have got their own appreciation for the content at hand.

  4. I’m really loving Deception IV. I heard the last boss is a pain, but I’ve been having such a good time with Free Play that it doesn’t matter if I ever beat her.

  5. Before anyone else posts it.

  6. I played a PS2 game that had an similar idea. I think it was called Trap or Trapt. Being wicked was fun.

    • Trapt was part of the Deception series. I agree it was really cool.

      Glad to hear this one is fun.

  7. Demon lolis got a 83? What the hell is going on here anyway?

  8. Blood Ties> Family Ties even with Alex. P. Keaton.

    Seriously, I NEED to play this. I’m glad games like this are made and brought to the USA.

  9. The screenshot makes the game look more funny than dark or scary.

  10. Good review. Never played the original Deception games.

  11. Ive noticed that full priced releases never do crossbuy. 🙁

    • Not true.

      Sly Cooper and Playstation All Stars both did.

      • The problem is those were both Sony properties. Sony probably paid the developers for the voucher codes in an effort to promote the Vita. For this type of niche game (and the same with DW8XL), they’re not going to do that.

  12. For clarification:

    Kokumeikan was the first Deception game, as was called “Tecmo’s Deception: Invitation to Darkness” here. 1996

    the second was called Kagero: Kokumeikan Shinsho, or Kagero: Deception II. 1998
    Third was Soumatou or Deception III: Dark Delusion, 2000
    Fourth was Kagero II: Dark Illusion, Trapt, here. 2005

    Technically Blood Ties is the fifth game. Maybe they don’t consider Tecmo’s Deception part of the series because it played differently and was first-person perspective.

  13. The SAW games weren’t bad and actually had some cool puzzles. Check this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NONH9mlBHw4

    437!!!

  14. This doesn’t really look dark and gruesome at all. The screenshots make it look comical.

  15. good review Robert. Glad to know you were ok with 3 loli characters! 😉

  16. Just bought the game last night. It’s so much fun. I love the idea of the traps and combos.

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