More malevolent fun than a swinging hammer to the face
Imagine if you will, a game that allows you to build a delightfully sadistic Rube Goldberg machine to destroy your enemies with a watchmaker’s precision. A game where you lure your foes into bear traps to immobilize them, only to send them flying headlong across the room with a swinging pendulum that causes them to land in a humiliated heap atop the seat of a carefully-placed toilet. Before your hapless hunter knows what hit them, they’re launched clear across the Gothic castle’s foyer by the force of the toilet’s raging bidet into a waiting furnace that burns them to a crisp.
Welcome to Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess. An enhanced port of last year’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title Deception IV: Blood Ties, this diabolical remake features all of the content from the original 2014 release, along with a new Quest Mode that puts you in the stilettos of the Devil’s second daughter Velguirie, the game’s rather aptly titled Nightmare Princess. As Velguirie, players will stalk the dreams of mortals like a voluptuous Freddy Kreuger, laying complex sequences of traps to kill them and claim their souls in order to resurrect her demonic dad. Velguirie’s story adds a whopping 100 new missions to the already expansive story of Deception IV, as she hunts her hapless victims through a variety of twisted playgrounds littered with ample opportunities to systematically disgrace and defeat your woefully disadvantaged prey. Each quest features three battle conditions that, when satisfied, will unlock new traps from the game’s staggering arsenal of over 180 torture devices, new accessories for your custom made enemies in the game’s Studio Mode, as well as new offensive and defensive abilities for the Nightmare Princess herself.
More than a simple palette swap of Deception IV‘s demonic protagonist Laegrinna, Velguirie has the ability to put her legs to good use, delivering a variety of kicks to her adversaries that can daze them, leaving them open for a barrage of devastating traps. During her quest, Velgurie will also occasionally battle the protagonists from previous games in the series (who are also selectable during her story) in a series of boss battles. Matching wits with these fellow hellish heroines is a refreshing change of pace, as both you and your adversary attempt to lure one another into each other’s waiting torture devices. The amount of new content and fresh challenges to undertake in Quest Mode is simply staggering, and offers many hours of new gameplay for even the most seasoned sadists to test their trapping skills. Occasionally, you’ll even undertake missions that leave the familiar dreary medieval castles and dungeons behind as you explore the modern Trapt Academy, which offers a variety of new environments including a school gymnasium full of murderous workout equipment, a playground with some seriously suspect sliding boards, and an amusement park perfect for offering your prey one final hurrah aboard a roaring roller coaster that offers its unfortunate occupants a one-way ticket to the afterlife.
After awhile a sense of repetition does set in after awhile due to the fairly small number of stages including in the package, but it’s somewhat offset when the enemies begin to bring a variety of new weapons and armor into battle, causing you to more carefully choose the traps for the task at hand. For example, armored enemies shrug off arrows fired from the walls until their armor is shattered, and foes with heavy iron boots or high agility are invulnerable to traps that grab their feet until they’ve been appropriately staggered by another device or well-timed kick. There’s an undeniable sense of satisfaction that comes with laying out the perfect string of traps, executing a combo that causes your attackers to tumble like dominoes one after the other.
Laying down traps in Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is a breeze. Simply tapping the circle button will open a grid-based map of the stage. Here, you can select from your chosen array of traps that spring from the ceiling, floor, and walls. Each trap is categorized as either ‘Elaborate’, ‘Sadistic’ or ‘Humiliating’, and using each will factor into your graded score at the end of each mission. From the map you can easily see just how far each trap will send your foe flying, which allows you to carefully choreograph your combos. Once you’ve set your traps you’ll be ready to dive into the action, in which you attempt to evade your pursuers and lure them to their demise. However, each trap needs to charge before it can be unleashed, making timing a necessity in order to execute a successful combo. Each stage also features a variety of stage-specific devices, such as tumbling pillars, crushing machinery and grinding gears that can be utilized as well. The most entertaining of these are the Trapmobiles – large and complex machinery such as trains, roller amusement park rides and other devious devices – which absolutely decimate your enemy’s health bar, and end with hilarious results when met with a successfully-timed button press during their climax.
In addition to the new Story Mode, you can also design your own missions and enemies in the Studio Mode. In this mode you can create your own characters from the ground up with weapons and accessories you unlock in the game’s Quest Mode. Players are given free reign to design these characters, choosing their face, clothing, hairstyles, and other cosmetic options. While it’s certainly a cool premise, you’re unable to actually alter the game’s stages themselves, which makes this mode feel like a bit of a squandered opportunity. Rather, you can set specific victory conditions and design your own enemies to populate the missions, which can then be shared with the community on the PlayStation Network. For what it’s worth the system works, but it’d be nice to see the next entry in the series expand on the premise by allowing you to create your own environments from the ground up.
All told, if you’re a fan of the series – which has been sending bands of fantasy foes to an early grave since the original PlayStation formative years – you’ll certainly want to get your hands on this devilish remaster. While some of the new features leave a bit to be desired, there is a metric ton of content to unlock throughout the game’s two main courses, which are sure to keep even the most die-hard Deception fans busy for quite some time. The game is a bit of a hard sell for those who may have already experienced Deception IV on the Vita and PlayStation 3 last year. However, if Blood Ties left you craving more sadistic shenanigans, Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is one bad dream you won’t want to wake up from.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5
Available on: Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 (reviewed); Publisher: Koei Tecmo ; Developer: Koei Tecmo ; Players: 1 ; Released: July 14, 2015 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $49.99 (PS4)
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy of Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess provided by the game’s publisher, Koei Tecmo America.