Caught in a Bear Trap? Gnaw off your leg!
Reina was an orphan from Burganfada. Despite a troubled childhood, she was adopted by a kind family, and grew up in relative happiness. That was until being kidnapped and brought to the island of Alendar. She watched in horror as her family was slain before her eyes under the auspices of the evil monarchy, led by King Frederick. Reina was cast into a deep dungeon, left to die. However, Reina is granted a chance to fight back through the power of traps.
Deception III: Dark Delusion comes off as grainy and unpolished. The kind of game that seems quickly turned out, translated, and dumped on an unsuspecting American audience. True, true… but these things belie how deep and involving this game actually is. Looks can be deceiving…
Basically, Dark Delusion is a trap-laying game. With each new chapter of the story, you begin by setting up traps throughout your surrounding. Once the traps are ready, you lure your enemies into them, and go for the kill. Of course the only bait you have is yourself.
There are three main categories of traps: ceiling, wall, and floor. Each of the traps can be strengthened and built into more powerful traps as you gain items and experience. Customizations include grafting elemental qualities, such as lightning and fire, and adding timers, so you won't have to trigger the traps manually. The forth category of traps are environmental traps, such as the chandelier that can crash down or the flaming pit of fire you can toss a foe into. The heart of the game lies in combining these traps for maximum damage.
Your basic combo chain works by leading, say, an unassuming villager to a bear trap. Snap! The trap closes shut, and the villager is locked into position. You set off a push wall, strategically placed to push a mining cart right into the hapless guy; the cart smashes him into a box of gunpowder, exploding in a fiery mess. As he lies there, burnt and dying, you pull the coup de grace and drop a giant rock on him. Watch as he bemoans his death while black blood oozes out. Did I mention how wonderfully desensitizing this game is?
To get you into the swing of things the game has a trap license mode, the equivalent of a training option. As you progress, you'll get a better understanding of how to set up combos and lure enemies. There's also a free training mode, where you can test out the next stage first hand, see what traps are already part of the room, plan out your combinations, and try them out. And for the master trapper, there's an expert mode.
Early on, the balance between story and game in Deception III: Dark Delusion is uneven. Getting into the game and understanding the combo system takes some time. Thankfully, right about the time you figure everything out, the story gets interesting, difficulty picks up, and you'll be trapping and killing left and right. The story isn't perfect, with bits of hokey-ness and melodrama, but it has the ability to keep you glued.
Unfortunately, ruining the flow of the storyline, there are ineffectual summary screens all the time. For example, one of the cut scenes used a subtle method of hinting a relationship between characters. Then, the summary comes up and says everything straight out, ruining the plot. How would you like it if movies had written summaries after every scene? It's akin to telling you who Keyzer Soze is. Other gripes about the summary screens include lousy grammar, misspellings, and how Reina (or whatever name you give her) is always referred to as "heroine." How hard can it be to plug a name into a text summary?
Titles, menus, chapter-heading screens - there's an unpolished look to all of them. The framerate lacks smoothness with pop-ups, polygonal errors, and graininess reminiscent of a first generation Playstation title. The lack of clarity makes it difficult to figure out whether enemies are within range of your traps, but with play, you just become used to it. I hope they have the sense to bring this game to the newer systems.
Musically, there's a rich score of eerie atmosphere music that perfectly compliments the very dark mood of the game. The screams and cries of your victims are right on the money, capturing the terror of death. During the interspersed FMV scenes, you'll have Japanese voices with subtitles, but for the other cut scenes, rendered in real time, you just get text. More voice and English would have been nice, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Deception III: Dark Delusion isn't for everyone, but deserves to be tried. Once you look past the graininess and the lack of polish, you'll find a worthwhile game filled with tactical planning and original play mechanics. It's part RPG, part action, part strategy that make Dark Delusion so unique. Give it a shot, and you may just find yourself trapped…