The Deception series has always been about creating diabolical death contraptions that would make Rube Goldberg turn over in his grave and Koei Tecmo’s latest offering, Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess, does a fine job of continuing that sinister tradition.
More of an enhanced version of last year’s Deception IV: Blood Ties than a proper sequel, Nightmare Princess includes everything from the original game, plus a new campaign and a few other goodies that might make the upgrade worth a purchase for more diehard fans. If you’ve been eyeing Blood Ties for the past 12 months and haven’t yet pulled the trigger, though, Nightmare Princess is the package you’ll want to dive straight into instead.
If you missed out on my review of Blood Ties last year, you might want to give that a quick scan to get a full breakdown of the original game. To summarize, players take on the role of Laegrinna, one of the daughters of the Devil who is trying to awaken the dark lord from his slumber. In order to do that, Laegrinna needs to collect the souls of the people dumb enough to get in her way.
Using the help of a trio of daemons, Laegrinna’s adventure spans multiple locations, each with multiple rooms. Your job is to use the structure of these rooms to your advantage in order to create intricate traps to humiliate and destroy your enemies. You’ll have access to floor, wall and ceiling traps, as well as a number of ruthless contraptions that make up the furnishings of many of the rooms. The trick here is that Laegrina’s enemies are constantly hunting her down, making positioning and timing your traps into a tricky and ultimately rewarding puzzle game of sorts. Some enemies have special strengths and weaknesses, too, which should be taken into consideration when setting up your killer devices.
Here’s a pretty simple rundown of how a trap series might play out: Lure an enemy into a spot where you’ve set up a pumpkin to fall on their head. This will cause them to stumble forward blindly, where you’ve also set up a bear trap to snare their feet. Held in place, they’re now an easy target for that swinging blade you’ve just now triggered, which will launch them across the room to land at the foot of a flight of stairs. You’re not done yet, however, as you decide to trigger a boulder at the top of the stairs that will now roll down and onto your opponent, thus finishing them off.
I’ve been a big fan of the Deception series since the days of the OG PlayStation, and Blood Ties managed to capture everything I adore about those older games and beef it up with more traps, more enemy types, more locations, etc. In other words, I really enjoyed the game, which means the foundation of The Nightmare Princess is already very strong.
Recently launching on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess tacks on a second campaign, this time starring the Devil’s other daughter, Velguirie. Trapped in the world of dreams, Velguirie needs to gain power by drawing victims into nightmares and killing them off like a fiery-haired Freddy Krueger. Velguiri’s story is not as linear as Laegrinna’s, boasting a quest tree featuring many splitting paths. What’s nice about this is that it gives the player some control over what challenge they’ll tackle next, and each level’s conditions and rewards are clearly spelled out in a pre-battle menu.
Unlike her sister, Velguirie will not have free reign to run all over castles and whatnot, instead limited to facing her enemies in a single location each time. The locations are nicely varied, though, pulled directly from Blood Ties or incorporating a handful of new and surprising modern locales like a park, high school gym or hospital. That means you can expect 100 one-room challenges that have been specifically crafted to challenge Velguirie and the loads of new traps she can unlock throughout the lengthy campaign.
Also a nice touch is the fact that you’ll occasionally run into heroines of previous Deception games, who add another wrinkle to the proceedings by fighting you with traps of their own. To bolster her own arsenal, Velguirie has access to a pair of new moves including a quick dash and a kick. The dash is nice for getting out of the way of traps or projectiles, while the kick is actually one of the best additions to the series to date. It does practically no damage, but it can be used to (literally) kick off a combo, stagger your opponent and, most importantly, move them into position for another trap.
Other than a second campaign, The Nightmare Princess also introduces the Deception Studio to the mix, which is a nice distraction alongside the sharing/playing of user-created challenges online or watching videos of other players’ best combos. The Deception Studio lets you create your own victims, dressing them with gear collected in Velguirie’s campaign and giving them their own mix of strengths and weaknesses.
All told, Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess takes everything I enjoyed about Blood Ties and just piles on more of it. There’s nothing super game-changing here, but it’s a meaty package that celebrates all of the best aspects of one of my favorite niche series of all time.
Unfortunately for those of you who have already purchased Blood Ties, there’s no way to simply add on the Nightmare Princess content as DLC. If you’ve already played last year’s iteration to death, you might be less inclined to fork over full price to buy this newest version of the game. On the other hand, if your trap-setting finger is still itching for action or you’ve simply never taken the latest Deception for a spin, then The Nightmare Princess should keep you busy for many, many hours of wicked entertainment.
This review based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms: PS4, PS4, Vita
Publisher: Koei Tecmo