Review: Deception IV: Blood Ties

Make no mistake - this is not a game for children.

Deception IV: Blood Ties tells an old story. Defeat the evil lord of the castle to prevent an ancient evil from being unleashed upon the world.

While the story sounds familiar, the game turns the cliche of good versus evil on its head by putting players in the shoes of the bad guy.

As Laegrinna, daughter of the devil, your task is to free your father from his magical prison by luring and killing the heroes who come to your castle.

Laegrinna sets traps around the castle, luring her enemies into them. The traps fall into three categories - elaborate, humiliating and sadistic. They range from giant blades and poisoned arrows to banana peels on the floor and cakes launched at your enemy's face.

She and her three demonic helpers wear skimpy outfits which are highly inappropriate for combat, while the game makes references to drinking, gambling and womanising.

Despite the violence, the game shies away from becoming a gore fest. Blood appears when the traps hit the enemies, but no excessive graphic violence, such as dismemberment, is shown.

The story can feel weak, often providing nonsensical reasons for why the enemies constantly stumble into the castle.

As a character, Laegrinna seems emotionally stunted and one-dimensional. The interesting conversations and events come from her enemies or from her demonic helpers.

Despite such flaws, the deep and challenging gameplay saves the day. Deception IV's heroes, with their weaknesses and resistances to certain traps, force players to come up with complex strategies to defeat them.

It is immensely satisfying to see a plan perfectly executed as all the pieces fall into place. Players will enjoy watching enemies stumble into a bear trap which immobilises them long enough for a swinging scythe to knock them onto a springboard. This, in turn, catapults them onto the path of a falling giant boulder a la Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

With more than 60 different traps to choose from, in addition to the many environmental traps located throughout the castle, the possibilities are vast.

While the story mode lasts about 10 hours, there are several different endings and 100 challenge missions available, ensuring that there is plenty of content for those eager for more bloodshed.

The over-the-top violence and unnecessary sexualisation might be too much for some, but gamers who dig beneath the surface will enjoy the deep gameplay and challenging missions.

This article was published on May 7 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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