Deception 3: Dark Delusion - Review  

Murder By Numbers
by Simon Seamann

Very Hard
15-30 hours


Rating definitions 

   One of the most important aspects of Deception 3: Dark Delusion which needs addressing at the very beginning is the following: Dark Delusion is not a mainstream RPG. Rather it is more akin to an Action game - an Action game that revolves around the main character being completely helpless against massive amounts of well-armed people who want to kill her, relying solely on her uncanny ability to set and activate a series of deadly booby traps to survive. Indeed, Dark Delusion, and the Deception series as a whole, breaks completely new ground in a genre that typically revolves around either a well-endowed woman or furry mascot jumping from platform to platform and shooting things. Instead of weapons, you are armed only with the ability to set and activate a series of self-created traps. You must use these traps - and yourself as bait - to kill your adversaries before they kill you.

   At the beginning of each new mission, the player is given the opportunity to view the layout for the castle or mansion which is to be fought in, check out the enemy statistics, and create new traps. Trap creation is significantly different than in the previous iteration of the series, Kagero: Deception 2. After each mission a certain amount of Dreak is acquired, and this resource is consumed in the process of creating traps. To create a new trap one must first select which of the three areas of traps is desired: Floor, Wall, or Ceiling. Then one must choose a "Base Circle" or type, such as bear trap, push wall, or boulder. Once that is narrowed down, one may then select individual components that will make up the trap. The first is the trap's Emblem, which adds some effect like fire/ice/electricity among many others.

   The next aspect of the trap is the Ring, which is related to the trap's activation - different Rings allow the trap to recharge faster, become automatic, or even lure enemies into their area of effect. The final variable is a trap's Orbs, and the number of Orbs determines a trap's power level. Once all the variables of the trap are settled, the trap is created and an amount of Dreak is subtracted - the better the trap, the more Dreak is required. With all the different variables, there are well over 2,000 total combinations of traps that the player can create. One must be patient however, as Emblems and Rings are only unlocked as the story progresses. .

Oooo, grids. Careful planning...

   After trap creation, it is time to get busy killing people. After some initial story set-up, the player is thrust into the controls of Reina, the story's protagonist. Reina moves about the castle in a 3rd-person over-the-shoulder perspective and it is by this view that the player must confront the castle intruders. Once in a room, a quick press of the "O" button brings up the menu. Here the player sees a grid layout of the room Reina are currently in. This grid is where one can assign trap locations - only one trap of each type at a time can be assigned per room.

   The principle idea is to kill the intruders as quickly as possible and without taking damage, and yet one should also want to maximize the amount of Dreak earned at the end of the level. One does this by setting traps up strategically enough to create a trap chain - a combination of traps that after activating will not only damage the opponent but also eventually move him or her into range of the initial trap so you can repeat the process until their death. The classic example is setting a bear trap at the bottom of a staircase to snare an intruder, then releasing a boulder at the top of the staircase in order to roll down and smash into the helpless enemy, and finally activating a push wall which forces the battered foe back into the same place as the initial bear trap. All traps have a recharge time, so precise timing is frequently required but ultimately rewarded.

Splat. ...pays off beautifully.

   The longer the combo and the more damage done equals more Dreak earned to create even more deadly traps. One can earn even more Dreak by creating a chain that includes a room's inherit traps, which range from death fans to iron maidens to falling chandeliers of razor blades. Utilizing inherent traps is typically harder to do since those traps cannot be moved, but the added Dreak is a big incentive to try. If it is not entirely obvious by how many times it was mentioned, acquiring Dreak is vitally important - one only gets a single chance each mission to earn as much as possible, and there is otherwise no way to acquire more. Not only do the deadlier traps require a lot of Dreak, but the later enemies gradually become resistant to all but the most powerful traps.

   Visually, Dark Delusion is easily the best looking game in the Deception series, but unfortunately that is not saying much. The graphics are pretty similar to Kagero: Deception 2, although slightly less pixilated at close range. The textures have not improved very much nor have the enemies, as far as looks are concerned. Overall the visuals are a disappointment considering the designers had quite some time to improve them between the second Deception title and this one. Music was completely forgettable as well - besides creating a vague sense of urgency it did little else.

   Something else that was a bit more vague than usual was the plot. It should be noted that the Deception series is best known for its stellar and completely unique gameplay, not its plot. That said, Dark Delusion's storyline was a real disappointment. One of the reasons is that, at first, the plot seemed as though it had quite some potential. Instead of forging ahead with the material though, it fell back on stiff dialogue, a vague and illogical storyline, and a general lack of enthusiasm. With a title like Dark Delusion, one might expect it to be a dark and moody game with surprising - and deadly - twists and turns. The designers took that title instead as a license to create a plot inhabited by NPCs that wink out of existence after their fifteen seconds of screen time, and a world in which even the poor peasant farmer has a four-room house equipped with giant buzzsaws, electric chairs, and pits of molten lava. At least with Deception 2 one was dealing with blue-skinned immortal beings bent on wiping out humanity after millennia of conflict - Dark Delusion actually attempts to take itself seriously. It was a sad attempt, and one that does not compliment Dark Delusion's incredibly fun gameplay at all.

   Featuring multiple endings as did its predecessors, Dark Delusion does offer quite a bit of replay value to those who can ignore the abysmal plot. As stated, the gameplay is amazing and, depending on how long one spends making traps, this game can take anywhere from 15-30 hours to complete. Additional play-throughs net access to über-traps that can certainly make getting the other endings a lot easier, provided one actually cares about the different endings. Ultimately though, Deception 3: Dark Delusion offers something that disappointingly few games offer these days: a completely refreshing and fun experience.

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