Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess Review

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Title: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.1 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

The strategy genre has always provided gamers with a sense of thinking, but also a sense of diversity.  Strategy games come in all shapes and sizes, from puzzle games like Tetris to board games like Risk to RPGs like Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics.  The strategy genre, itself, is so wide-spread into other genres that it’s something that can be used by almost any gaming genre around.

What doesn’t happen very often, though, is a strategy game that walks the line between a Strategy Action game and a Strategy RPG.  I, myself, have not played a game like this until recently, when I was contacted by Tecmo Koei to do coverage for one of their newest releases.  As such, a new franchise has been shown to me that I shall now show to you.  An updated version of the Vita and PS3 game from last year, here is my official review of Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess!

Story

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Tales speak of an evil creature that once roamed the world that went by many names, but is now known as “The Devil”.  The Devil’s reign of terror was brought to an end when the warriors known as The Saints and the Holy Verses sealed him away to another dimension and split the seal into several pieces, scattering them throughout the known world.  Meanwhile, The Devil planned his own resurrection and return.

The Devil spawned sent three servants as well as a daughter split from his own soul into the human realm to retrieve the Holy Verses, so they may be used to revive and bring him back into the world of the living.  You play as Laegrinna, daughter of The Devil, luring the descendants of the Saints to you to torture them and steal the Holy Verses in order to resurrect your father.

As the above shows, Deception IV’s storyline is quite unique in that you play as more of an evil role, rather than good.  You work for an evil entity and work towards torturing and killing attackers while you go to resurrect that very evil back into the human world.  The story, itself, has a little bit of humor thrown into it, but the story isn’t going to keep you coming back, as opposed to the gameplay.

Gameplay

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Deception IV is a strategy game, though some go as far as calling it a Strategy RPG, due to the stage-based gameplay and earning experience and money to use on new upgrades from each mission you complete.  However, from a gameplay standpoint, it is worth saying that it is a strategy game with a few RPG mechanics thrown into the mix.  If anything, it’s more of a Strategy Action game than a Strategy RPG.

When you’re going through a stage, you will be placed in a free-roam 3D environment, mostly resembling a building, such as a castle or factory.  These areas have several rooms in them along with obstacles like moving floors and pits.  When you’re in the stage, you will have waves of enemies coming towards you that you’ll need to take out.  However, you cannot fight on your own with punches and kicks, so you have to lay down traps to damage your enemies with.

This is where the strategy comes into play.  There are three kinds of traps: Ceiling, Wall, and Floor.  Ceiling Traps fall from the ceiling, like spikes, guillotines, boulders, the list goes on.  The same goes for wall and floor traps, but coming from their respective category.  You have a specific number of traps you can set on any area of the environment you’re in, but you can’t set any two traps on the same grid location.

Once your traps are set, your goal is to lure the enemy to you and start launching the traps.  Since many enemies regenerate HP over time, you want to chain the traps together, making one trap put the enemy where the next trap will spring.  Such as having a wall push an enemy off a ledge to where a boulder will fall and then roll away, and then having a springboard launch the boulder back up to roll over them again and then end with a spiked wall falling from the ceiling to finish them off.  The idea is to get as extensive a combo as possible.

Another part of the strategy is that certain enemies are immune to certain traps until you break their armors, and some late-game enemies cannot be hurt at all without breaking their armor first.  It takes some time to learn as you play through the storyline and learn what can be combined with what.

Apart from the Story from the first game, there are two new game modes added: Quest Mode and Deception Studio.  Quest Mode lets you use new characters, such as the new “Nightmare Princess”, as well as unlocking characters from the earlier games in the series through 100 new quests.  It also is more diverse, bringing a new storyline and question goals and rewards.  Deception Studio lets you be creative in designing your own level with enemies, environments, and whatnot.

The story mode should take you a good 8-10 hours to complete.  With the Quest Mode added, you should expect this game to last at least 5-7 hours past that, with each of the 100 quests taking at least 5 minutes to complete a piece.  This almost doubles the playtime if you’re a fan of the series and the gameplay.

Controls

Touch controls is something you don’t have to worry about here.  The entire game can be played through just by using the buttons on the system, whether you’re using the PS Vita or the PlayStation TV.  None of the other unique features of the Vita are used either, like the camera and six-axis.

When you’re in a stage, you can move around with the Left Analog Stick and move the camera with the Right Analog Stick.  L and R can be used to re-center the camera behind you and the D-Pad can cycle through your selected trap to trigger once it is recharged.  You hit the Circle button to open up the trap menu.  X can set or activate a trap and Triangle can be used for an ability, like dodging or kicking.  Finally, the Square button may be used to use other set abilities, like a freeze wave or other unlockable skills.

All in all, the controls are simple to get a handle on.  Many have on-screen symbols to make sure you never forget, and the tutorial missions do a nice job of explaining the gist of things to you.

Presentation

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The visual presentation looks good, for the most part.  All of the in-game renders and character models are nicely smoothed out.  The visual style is somewhat reminiscent of the PS Vita game, Dead or Alive 5 Plus and some of Tecmo Koei’s other PS Vita titles.  From the characters’ hair to the gruesome effects of the traps, everything looks nice.

One small thing to note is that the game has a few issues with frame drops.  When I was playing through the game, I would notice that the frames would drop every so often while going through Quest Mode.  It doesn’t happen incredibly often, but it does happen throughout the game.  Other than this, there are no complaints about the presentation.  Despite the 3D nature of the game, the load times never exceed 5-6 seconds.

Summary

Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is a robust enhancement onto last year’s Blood Ties.  On the downside, the story still isn’t anything to grip your heart and there are some frame drops in the new Quest Mode.  Outside of this is a brutal and graphic strategy game that fans of the series are sure to get into and enjoy. 

8/10

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