Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness - Retro Reflections

I have long been a big fan of Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness. Despite having one of the more unusual titles of its day (more often than not, people I knew who played this simply referred to it as Deception), but more than that it was a unique game both in the role you played and the mechanics.

The timing to revisit this game seems perfect, given we we reviewed Deception IV when it released on PS3 and Vita, and the game is receiving an updated release for PlayStation 4 soon. So what about the original game so piqued my interest? For one, it was a very dark and brooding game that cases you into the role of a character who was unjustly brought to death, and with his last breath begged for the power to not only survive but to gain revenge against those who wronged you.

While revenge is not an unusual narrative aspect to a video game, the way it was executed in Deception certainly felt more sinister than most titles. Satan's Messenger, Astarte, brings you to Castle of the Damned where you are given the power you asked for, and a chance at second life, but in exchange you are tasked with calling Satan to this world.

The story is not terribly deep, with some references to a fiance Fiana and your brother Yurias who turns out to be the reason you are in this mess in the first place. The real focus of Deception is in the characters who come to your house. These people are all lured to the house for a variety of reasons. Some of them simply had the horror-story-esque ill-fortune to arrive on a stormy night while looking for shelter, while others are seeking rare magic that may aid them in healing a sick family member or others might be knights looking to do away with your evil.

Enemies start simply enough, mostly plodding about passages randomly until they catch sight of you. Your character has no means of actually defending himself directly - you use traps and summoned creatures to do the dirty work for you. The traps will be your primary means of getting the job done and come in a handful of upgradable flavors such as dealing damage (spikes, large boulders) to trying to contain your victim (cages, cranes). Generally the damaging traps have a higher rate of success, and you want to use these to soften up and slow down your victims before capturing them. I usually found myself using narrow passages filled with wall mounted spike traps to do most of the damage.

If you capture the person and take their soul (the harder of the two options, but more rewarding), you gain magic points. If you kill the victim, you then get gold. Both have their uses as you can unlock new items, upgrade existing ones and even use the bodies of the fallen to create horrific summoned monsters to do your bidding during combat.

Some of the invaders will seek to kill you no matter what, pushing the conflict to the end of one of you. Some when spooked or injured will try to leave the house. There were times I simply decided to let people leave - doing so meant lost opportunity for gold or magic points, but these interactions would sometimes impact the story in small ways in later chapters, culminating in a handful of slightly different endings.

Movement around the castle is all handled in a 3D rendered way visually. The music was relatively simple but it did the job, adding a sense of foreboding to the already dark storyline. Deception was a flawed game, with really basic AI, but the mesh of RPG elements and trapping enemies was thoroughly addicting (as evidenced by other popular and similar games over the yes such as Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders). It was a game that was frequently picked up and played by my roommates or when friends came over. By today's standards the graphics, music and AI are a bit clumsy, but it still made for a very unique gaming experience that stuck with me over the years and has created a spot in my heart for the series going forward.

Article by Nick
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