Developed by Tecmo Koei. Published by Tecmo Koei. Released March 25, 2014. Available on PS3, PS Vita (reviewed).
The Deception series has always been fascinating, if nothing else. Not exactly a critical darling, the line of games is often criticized for repetition and failing to switch up its formula between sequels, but fans love the sadistic satisfaction it provides. Luring would-be heroes to their doom is never not fun, at least in theory, and Deception IV: Blood Ties has no intention of changing a thing.
The story goes that the Devil broke off a piece of himself and turned it into his daughter, because that's what you do if you're the Devil. This half-naked child of the damned, Laegrinna, sits in her castle with three equally nude demon girls, planting rumors of witchcraft among mortals in order to lure brave heroes to their lair. Once there, Laegrinna coaxes them into a series of tricks and traps, indirectly murdering them and taking ancient relics to fulfill her father's plan.
They also all have massive boobs, and Laegrinna in particular wears a costume with a split down the back designed to show off her butt cleavage. I am yet to work out the logistics or tactical advantages of such clothing, but one cannot understand the mind of Satan.
As with all games in the series, Deception is a strategy game in which you place traps and attempt to make enemies walk into them. Traps often push, pull, or throw their victims across the grid-like map, allowing you to place more traps in the landing zones and create an intricate chain of grisly punishment - provided you planned it out well, and predicted some of the less reliable traps' behavior.
As a game centered on setup and payoff, Deception IV swings wildly between immense satisfaction and pure frustration. When everything works as intended, there are few more elating things - it's simply joyful to catch an enemy in a beartrap, holding it in place so a giant yoyo can smack it into the path of a swinging scythe, which in turn kicks the hapless fool into the path of a falling boulder. The possibilities are numerous and gleefully painful.
There are multiple trap types, from floor-based grabbers to ceiling-mounted spikes, and they come in three distinct flavors - Elaborate, Sadistic, and Humiliating. Each theme is governed by one of Laegrinna's skimpily clad demon assistants, and confer unique point scores upon the player when triggered. Elaborate traps are useful for strategic purposes, usually based around shunting enemies about and chaining together combos. Sadistic traps are where all the scythes, spikes, and other nasty weapons are kept, while Humiliating traps often confer status ailments and making the enemy look silly.
There are environmental traps as well, from electric chairs to oncoming trains, and chaining a trap sequence that leads an opponent into them is a great way to score points and deal huge quantities of damage. It's quite difficult to pull off, though, often requiring insane timing and more than a little luck. When the stars align and a plan comes together, however, the joy is palpable.