In ages past, there was a being known only as “the Devil” who ruled the world through fear. Eventually, there emerged twelve Saints who sealed away the Devil at last with a sacred text known as the Holy Verses. These Verses were then divided into twelve fragments and passed down secretly through the ages. Since that time, 3,000 years have passed…
Never ceasing in his search for the Holy Verses required for his resurrection, the Devil has spawned three servants… and sent them into the human realm… together with a “daughter” split off from his own soul… to visit his wrath upon the fallen human race.
Well, this is certainly not my usual fare, is it? Today, I will be covering Deception IV: Blood Ties, the fifth game of the Deception series (the entry preceding this one was localized as Trapt). The game was released for PS3 and Vita earlier this year (end of February in Japan, end of March in the West). In Japan, it went by the title Kagero: Dark Side Princess (“Kagero” means Mayfly, and was used in the title of an earlier entry in the series).
It was developed and localized by Tecmo-Koei, and touches upon parts of the basic premise of the first entry in the series. Due to its speedy localization (and perhaps for consistency within the series), it only has Japanese voices. I played the Vita release.
Story-wise, it’s simple. You are Laegrinna, spawn of the Devil. Your goal is to kill the descendants of the twelve saints, retrieve their fragments of the Holy Verses and revive the Devil. There to assist you are three daemons. The Daemon of Elaborate Death – Caelea, the Daemon of Sadistic Torment – Veruza, and the Daemon of Humiliating Demise – Lilia. Over the course of 12 chapters, you spread rumours to get waves of enemies (who all have some manner of throwaway backstory you can check by stopping the game), as well as one of the descendants of the Saints, to visit your base, where you kill them. After every three chapters, you move to a new base and continue.
There are four endings in the game (the rest of this section will mercilessly spoil them), and they’re all simple to obtain if you know how. At the end of chapter 6, the final enemy will be an armored lancer by the name of Celia. If you kill her without breaking her armor, you will get ending A at the end of the game, where the Devil is revived and you support him as sub-rulers of sorts. You need to break her armor for all other endings. When you do, and reveal her face as being identical to yours, she escapes and the fight immediately ends with Laegrinna wounded. Celia will then reappear as the final enemy of chapter 11. Break her armor here and the fight ends again, but this time you have the upper-hand and get to speak with her. She reveals that you and her were once one being who betrayed the Devil, and you get to choose whether to believe her or not.
If you believe her, beating the game gets you ending B, where it is revealed that you were being tricked for the entire game – the daemons supporting you already knew what was up and wanted this all to happen. They get you and Celia to absorb the Devil’s power, split half-and-half, via alchemy and you two establish a stable government with the backing of the world’s people.
If you don’t believe her, you get ending C, where the final boss, one blow away from death, reveals that the Holy Verses would merely break the seal on the Devil and actually reviving him would require a sacrificial vessel – one of the Saints, one of the daemons, or Laegrinna. But now all of the Saints except for the final boss are dead. The final boss then bargains to let herself be spared so she can teach Laegrinna how to absorb the Devil’s power, as long as she gets a small portion. They do this and Laegrinna takes over the world with the final boss as her second-in-command, but the game ends on an ominous note of being unable to escape one’s past.
If you do not break Celia’s armor when she reappears in chapter 11, the final boss, with her last breath, reveals the things that Celia would have revealed, but not in as much detail. This angers Laegrinna, who asserts the daemons into submitting to her specifically, not the Devil. They then sift through the final boss’ research documents and figure out the details of absorbing the Devil’s power. Laegrinna absorbs this power all into herself and rules the world with an iron fist, becoming a new Devil.
This game is fairly simple from a gameplay standpoint. You can equip traps (your only method of attack) and supporting abilities going into a level. You can set and rearrange your traps at any time through the level, and you must run around, dodging attacks, to lure enemies, who come in waves (not one at a time except at the start of the game), into them. You have to manually activate your traps, and you can even do combos.
The combos are important here. Each enemy has types of traps that they resist, types of traps that simply don’t work on them, and armored enemies have types of traps they’re weak to. The weaknesses are hidden, but traps enemies resist will not work except when in a combo, and they might even resist one of their weaknesses. If you hit all of an armored enemy’s weaknesses and then launch them high into the air so that they drop from high up, their armor will break when they touch the ground, making them vulnerable to more attacks than before.
There are also stage hazards, including one-use ones, which can be used in combos. If you weaken non-boss enemies enough, they can be captured if launched into cages (or whatever they are depending on the level’s theme – an abandoned amusement park uses massive clown heads instead), giving you bonus points depending on the enemy (for example, civillians and enemies with backstories that would make capture instead of death extra tragic or ironic tend to give the most points).
The three daemons don’t directly help during gameplay, but they give optional sub-missions that act as tutorials in some cases (use a certain trap, go to a certain room on the map for the first time, etc.) and challenges in other cases (usually involving traps of their affinity). You can completely ignore them, but you get more points for doing them.
There are several classes of enemies, such as healers, civilians, ninjas, swordsmen, enemies who wield flamethrowers, etc. Enough to give the game variety, though the story isn’t very long to play through.
At the end of a level, you get an overview showing what sorts of traps gave you the most points, how an enemy met their demise/was captured, and gives you some in-game currency to buy new abilities or traps. If you have the auto-defense ability you start with (which acts as an auto-dodge for most attacks just by being equipped and makes the game much easier), the in-game currency you get is halved.
In addition to the story mode, there’s a mission mode, a mission editor (with community missions available, of course), and a free play mode that lets you pick any enemy/map combination to face off on.
There are also four alternate costumes for Laegrinna that can be purchased with in-game currency after unlocking them, though the way to unlock them depends on the version. These costumes are the costumes of Millennia (Kagero: Deception II), Allura (Trapt), Ayane (Dead or Alive series) and Totori (Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland).
An annoyance of note for the Vita release (not sure about the PS3 release) is that making or downloading a custom mission will bloat the size of your save file, and there is no way to delete just the mission(s). Also, the localized release lacks a few convenience features present in the Japanese version. In the Japanese release, the game will tell you if there are any enemies resistant/immune to a trap you’re setting, and which enemy, while the English release does not (you have to manually check). Also, in the Japanese release, if you’ve ever broken an enemy’s armor, the game will outright tell you that enemy’s weaknesses on subsequent replays of the game, but not in English release. Good thing there are weakness guides out there.
Deception IV: Blood Ties is currently available on PS3 and Vita, both physically and digitally. Both versions are also currently 30% off without PS+ and 50% off with PS+ for the PSN Summer Sale.
It’s a fun game, but not a very long one. I’d recommend grabbing it on the discount it’s currently at. If you’re one to 100% games, then replaying for all of the endings, completing all 100 missions and trying out some of the maps can extend the life of the game for you, but it is still overall simpler to 100% than most titles.
Still, it is a title worth a look.