Review: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Nathan Nendez, posted Jul 18, 2015, last updated Jul 18, 2015
Jul 18, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): July 14, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): July 17, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): March 26, 2015
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo
  • Developer: Koei Tecmo
  • Genres: Action, Strategy RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • Also For: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess acts as an expansion to Deception IV: Blood Ties, and introduces Velgyrie, the second daughter of the Devil, on her quest to use traps to bring nightmares to humans while trying to awaken her father.
Nathan Nendez
DIV Banner.

The Nightmare Princess is a game jam packed with content, including the original storyline of Laegrinna from Blood Ties on top of the new content. The new quest mode takes you through a large number of new quests where you play as Velgyrie, a daughter of the Devil just like Laegrinna. All of this along with the Deception Studio for creating new missions can give many hours of content to fans of the series. The question is though, is the new content worthwhile?

General Presentation: Story and Looks

The story is fairly straightforward. As the second daughter of the Devil, you are trying to trap the souls of humans in order to awaken the Devil once more. The story itself is unexciting with still character frames and text boxes being used for all storytelling purposes. You learn just enough to understand who Velgyrie is, why she is known as the Nightmare Princess, bringing nightmares to humans who get pulled into her realm as they sleep. Velgyrie lost her powers after a long slumber, but is retaught what she needs to know by the automaton Ephemera so that she may utilize the power of traps. Throughout Velgyrie's story, you are free to follow different paths that lead you to varying scenarios and interactions with characters introduced in previous Deception games, such as Reina, the Tragic Princess, Allura, the Branded Princess, and Millennia, the Clockwork Princess, who are all unlockable as playable characters with unique abilities.

In the long run, you won't find much worth paying attention to in the story. It's really just there to give a small push to keep giving excuses to go to the next mission.

On a graphical note, although graphics don't make or break an experience, Nightmare Princess does suffer from some somewhat basic looking character models and environments. It doesn't take away too much from the overall experience, but it doesn't add anything either.

DCIV Playground 2.
Although the environment looks okay, the enemy character model does not look very detailed from a short distance away

The Gameplay

The Deception series is known for its trap based fighting. This is a very creative concept for the first hour or two, but it quickly starts to become repetitive and slow if it doesn't click with you. Traps are split into three categories of elaborate (more strategy oriented traps), sadistic (violent), and humiliating. You work to chain together traps of various types in order to fulfill specific objectives. This can be a fun experience as you bounce someone off a springboard, drop a boulder on them, swing an axe into them as they're trying to get up, which launches them into one of the preset stage traps for a brutal finishing move. This becomes a tedious experience when you try to trigger more complex trap setups and realize after the tenth failure to trigger the whole chain that maybe the simple set ups were a little bit better. It becomes a boring experience when you're doing the same thing over and over and over again in various environments with no other gameplay elements there to break up the monotony. A change from playing as Laegrinna in Blood Ties is the addition of being able to use kicks as Velgyrie, which can add another layer of strategy for kicking enemies towards traps, or another layer of frustration depending on how well you can use them.

An example of the kick used to ready traps to be set in motion

Essentially, the gameplay is simple to use, but incredibly difficult to master. You really start to notice this once multiple enemy types with different immunities and weaknesses all crop up at the same time requiring different trap set ups, while you near helplessly run around in circles trying to get enemies to line up correctly. This does become difficult, and the game will challenge you as you try to learn more complex combinations to more effectively remove enemies. It also can feel like levels are going incredibly slowly as you run in circles laying down new trap sequences and hoping they work.

Nightmare Princess does have some creative scenarios that offer very different looking trap laden environments that add to the experience, and these did resonate well with me as a nice break from the drab environments of places like the castle.

Quests, quests, quests, and quests

Unlike in Laegrinna's story, you aren't given a series of optional objectives as a mission progresses from multiple sources in a relatively straightforward fashion. Instead, the new mode is called Quest Mode with each quest having a defined set of objectives prior to the mission starting. The only objective that must be cleared is the one that determines whether the quest is cleared. Every other objective gives you new traps, as well as new bits and pieces that can be used in the Deception Studio. You are given the impression at first that not every objective must be cleared to proceed, but it wasn't too far into the story that I understood far too well what pain would come as specific items would be needed to clear specific quests that only came from optional objectives in prior quests. It can become an annoying experience as you retry an older quest time and time again trying to get the specific objectives so that you can unlock everything you need to proceed.

The quest system does give some freedom in that there are multiple quest lines you can follow which lead to 100 total quests with their own sets of objectives and items to gain. If you get stuck, you can pursue another quest line until you're ready to move on with the other one. This can offer a slight reprieve from frustration if a particular quest isn't going well, but doesn't offer much relaxation when it's the same lackluster gameplay with different objectives for harming humans.

DIV Quest Screen (2).
An early example of one of many quest screens you'll see outlining the win condition, optional objectives, and what you can win


The gameplay will only really appeal to a few, the story is nothing special, and the quest mode is both interesting and lacking as it can force backtracking and grinding for traps. The Nightmare Princess does come with the benefit of essentially being two entire games, which adds a lot to the content that's available for fans. The Deception Studio also offers a fair bit of freedom in level creation with a voting system in place so that you can find the best levels more quickly while looking for player created content. The only caveat with it is that to get the most from the studio as a creator, you are once again forced to grind optional objectives in quest mode to gain more assets.

If you are a fan of the Deception series, there is a lot of new content that you'll enjoy. If you tried Deception games before and didn't like them, or have never played a Deception game before, I'd strongly suggest playing a demo or watching gameplay so that you understand exactly what you're getting into if you're interested.
+ Many different traps for many different gameplay options
+ New environments offer new permanent traps to play with
+ Plenty of content between the Blood Ties story and new content
+ Deception Studio can offer even more content
- Trap fighting can become very repetitive and frustrating
- Story is weak and nothing worth focusing on
- Grinding earlier quests can be necessary to accomplish later quests
- Grinding quest objectives may be necessary to get the most out of the Deception Studio
- Character models and environments can look somewhat simple and unexciting
6 Presentation
The game is nothing all that special to look at. Character models fall short, and many environments are reminiscent of what you might expect from earlier in the PS3's life. The story is otherwise unexceptional and can be skipped with little consequence for the uninterested.
5 Gameplay
The gameplay initially comes off as strong and creative, but can quickly become frustrating, slow, and repetitive. Although there are many traps, both for you and in the environments, as failures stack up, it can become very tempting to stick to the basics, which ultimately hampers the experience further. As gameplay is supposed to be the strong point of this game, I found it disappointing that it seemed to fall so short.
8 Lasting Appeal
Undeniably, there is a lot of content in this game. If you enjoy it, there is Laegrinna's story, Valgyrie's quest mode, and plenty of potential for quality user created content. There is definitely a lot of game here.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
I recognize the way the gameplay could be fun to other people, but I ultimately did not find it good enough to carry the entire experience. There is challenge, but it doesn't feel fun. With a lacking story, at best average graphical presentation, and gameplay that falls short, I can't find much that would appeal to those who aren't already fans of the Deception series.