Review: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess

Release Date
July 17th 2015 (EU), July 14th 2015 (US)
PlayStation 4, Playstation 3 (Digital only), Playstation Vita (Digital Only)
Publisher / Developer
Tecmo Koei / Tecmo Koei
Action Role-playing, Strategy Role-playing

Sadism Simulator 2015 Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess, both developed and published by Tecmo Koei, is an expanded re-release of the Deception IV: Blood Ties Action/Strategy RPG. Deception IV: Blood Ties saw a localised release, on both PS3 and Vita in March 2014. Now, just shy of 14 months later, we are graced with this expanded re-release, available, not just on PS3 and Vita, but PS4 as well. Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess has Japanese voice acting, with a choice of languages for the text. The title sees a digital release on all three platforms, with a physical release available for the PS4.

In this game, enemies are defeated by means of laying out traps on a grid and executing them. Utilising traps in combination with each other allows to gain more points. Additional traps and abilities are unlocked as you progress through the game. Making use of stage traps, traps built into an area, is an important aspect, and can usually provide for some violently artistic deaths. Despite the focus on killing with traps rather than by means of physical altercations, this is a very violent, albeit enjoyable, game. One can’t help but enjoy meticulously orchestrating the circumstances of an enemy’s death and watching the execution take place.

The focus of Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is the all-new Quest mode, featuring Velguirie, the titular Nightmare Princess. In this mode, you are tasked with clearing 100 quests with multiple differing clear conditions in order to steal human souls and offer them to the Great One in order to regain an unknown power. Each quest has a condition for clearing the quest, and three optional conditions that can be met. Although specifics vary between quests, the aim is generally to setup dangerous traps within a room in order to defeat any enemies present. Meeting the optional conditions unlocks more apparatus to be used within traps, but the clear condition must still be met. You progress through quests by means of a quest tree, unlocking access to quests as you continue. Story is disseminated through visual novel-style cutscenes between quests. These cutscenes are voiced in Japanese, with the quality and authenticity of the dialogue rivalling that of an anime. Unfortunately, within quests themselves, not all on-screen speech is voiced.

The story mode features Laegrinna, the Dark Side Princess, in her journey to free her “father”, the Devil. This mode is identical to the story from Deception IV: Blood Ties, even going so far as to utilise the Deception IV: Blood Ties logo within the opening upon selecting Story from the main menu. This mode features chapters, rather than quests, and a main character that, unlike Velguirie, is unable to utilise a physical attack. Aside from that, the gameplay is generally the same; you are required to setup traps in order to defeat enemies and progress through the story. While providing the same sadistic pleasure as Quests in allowing one to play with their victims, the story mode seems less enjoyable to me; being able to just jump in to a quest is more to my taste. That said, fans of the series are likely to have already played the story mode in Deception IV: Blood Ties, and will be able to import their save file. Unfortunately, having not played Blood Ties, I was unable to see how well this feature functioned.

The other two modes are ‘Free Battle’ and ‘Deception Studio’. Free Battle allows you to choose the stage, enemies, and traps at your disposal. Deception Studio provides a playground for you to customise characters (yes, you can increase health to torture your victim for longer), create quests, download user-created quests, or just sit back and watch replays of your favourite kills that you’ve saved. These modes are easily the highlights of the game, they may as well be packaged and sold as “Sadistic Murder Simulator 2015”. There’s just something about luring a school girl to a springboard, catapulting her onto an operating table, strapping her in, and unleashing a swinging axe towards her (see above screenshot) that really makes a game worthwhile.

The only major disappointment with this game lies within its release strategy. The logic behind only giving the PS4 version a physical release is understandable; Deception IV: Blood Ties received a physical release on PS3 and Vita, thus this allows people to own the story on PS4. This in itself is not an issue. Those who own Blood Ties physically on Vita or PS3 will now be required to buy the whole game again, but digitally, in order to take advantage of the additions. An option to buy just the additions as DLC, in order to “upgrade” Blood Ties to The Nightmare Princess, would not have gone amiss. It just seems unfair that fans will have to pay full price for the game, and have nothing, physically, to show for it.

Overall, the game is incredibly enjoyable, allowing one to sadistically torture enemies to death. The game is perfect for that, and will bring many hours of enjoyment, especially with the Deception Studio mode and user content being downloadable. Unfortunately, the plot itself is not as engrossing as the gameplay. If the Deception Studio mode did not require unlocking characters and traps in another mode, it is unlikely I'd spend much time on them. Despite this, the game is well worth the price of admission, moreso for newcomers to the franchise, to this sadistic playground.