Deception IV: Nightmare Princess Review

The torture porn version of The Incredible Machine

My very first exposure to Rube Goldberg contraptions was through this little PC game back in the 90s called The Incredible Machine. I honestly didn't know how to play it at the time, but I did like loading some of the completed levels, just to press play and watch as the ball falls on the scissors, that cut the string, that make a hammer fall over, that press down on a wind blower that pushes a basktball onto a trampoline and then gets hurled through a small opening. Deception IV is kind of like that, except replace the normal everyday items with killing contraptions like spikes, giant hammers, boulders and explosive mines.

Deception IV: Nightmare Princess is actually the second game in the Deception IV story. Back in April 2014, Joe Donato gave the original Deception IV: Blood Ties a 4/10, stating that the game was absolutely full of repetition due to the traps feeling very similar to one another. While I certainly did feel the repetitive nature of the game creep up on me from time to time, I actually found myself immensely enjoying the death traps I so elaborately created.

Nightmare Princess actually contains the entirety of the Blood Ties, allowing you to play as Laegrinna, the daughter of the devil, who is trying to resurrect her father by collecting holy verses. However, new to the game is Quest Mode, which allows you to play as Velguirie, yet another scantily clad anti-hero who wants nothing more than to see poor warriors suffer in her own devilish contraptions. Instead of simply adding to the game's length by offering up more levels to play as a new character, Quest Mode feels quite different form the game's main campaign, and in a very good way. This is because Quest Mode contains more bite-sized challenges with specific goals that need to be met. For example one Quest will task you with ensuring you strike a hit on an enemy while they're airborn, which means you have to build your contraption with that in mind. You could technically skip out on that goal, but you'd be missing out on some sweet rewards.

Deception IV: Nightmare Princess

The other big addition are skills. Velguirie can actually learn a few utility skills that make her way more fun to play as. She can learn a kick that knocks back enemies, making it a perfect skill to push them into traps. She can also utilize a dash move which allows her to quickly move past enemies as they're attempting to get a hit on you.

But the traps are still the absolute stars of the game. Watching a perfectly constructed trap play out exactly according to plan is immensely satisfying. There are three categories of traps, Wall, Ground and Ceiling as well as each of those having different variants, elaborate, sadistic and humiliating. Sadistic and humiliating are by far my two favorite categories, as the former leads to some truly painful, cringe-inducing traps, while the humiliating ones include items like banana peels, rakes that the enemy can slip on, or a pumpkin that can drop on their head, forcing them to walk with it on for a few feet.

It's a weird game, sure. Most likely its unique focus on trap-based gameplay is what intrigued me most. And while I can't say that it's either a pretty game or one that controls very well, I was still quite engaged, and wanted to continually keep playing to unlock new ways to torture humans with. Man, what does that really say about me…

For those that like to dabble in level creation, there's a full editing suite that lets you completely make a level layout, everything from stage hazards to enemy placement. You can also download the hundreds of levels already available, some of which are truly inventive.

It's certainly not for everyone, and those offended by anime characters in skimpy clothing should certainly look the other way, but those willing to try something a little different, a game where you're not given a weapon and tasked with eliminating thousands of soldiers with it, but rather take the backseat and plan out some devilish traps, should certainly give Deception IV: Nightmare Princess a try.