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Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness
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Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness
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Okay, what's the first thing you think of when you hear the name of the company Tecmo? Most likely thoughts went straight toward insanely difficult ninja action or fighting games starring breasts that defy all laws of physics. However, Tecmo had other games and series besides Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. One of their more niche series is the Deception games, a strategy series that provided better torture porn than the games based on the Saw movies. In fact, by the fourth game on Playstation 4, players could become total sadists with their set-ups. By those standards, the original game seems quaint but is still a good way for players to see how sick their minds can get.

Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness has a bare-bones plot, but that's generally excusable for a strategy game. The premise is that you play the son of the king, next in line for the throne. He gets framed by his jealous brother for the king's murder and sentenced to burn at the stake. He pleads to the powers that be to get him out of the predicament, and he gets saved, not by God, but by Satan's messenger Astarte. She promises him his revenge in exchange for stealing souls to revive Satan. The plot only comes up in the first and last chapters. The chapters in-between are just random-feeling encounters. The plots in the later games of the series are much stronger, but the thin story doesn't really hurt this one.

Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness (PlayStation)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Despite the game being first-person, gameplay does not revolve around shooting or stabbing. Instead, as lord of Satan's abode, players set traps to capture or kill anyone foolish enough to wander in. Stealing victims' souls grants MP for developing and setting traps while killing them grants gold for buying items and building onto the mansion. Strategic thinking is critical here. Unlike in the later games where new traps can be set on the fly, here the traps can only be set at the beginning of a scenario or from Satan's main chamber. On top of that, the traps feel more mechanical, depending on invisible die rolls to determine if the targets dodge or not. The sequels feel more natural... at least, as natural as iron balls falling from the ceiling can be.

The game maintains a chilling atmosphere with decent visuals for the time. The sequels have more detail in their environments, but the fact that the mansion here can be custom-built excuses that to a degree. The atmosphere also works thanks to great sound design and a soundtrack that just feels tense. The victims' cries when they get nailed are cheesy enough to break the immersion, though. The controls do the job but fall victim to the traps of pre-Dual Shock PS1 games. Strafing to dodge attacks depends on the shoulder buttons which are stiffer than a thumbstick. You can only activate whichever trap is directly in your line of sight at any given time which can be problematic if your quarry isn't approaching at just the right angle. Finally, your victims can only be nailed by one trap at a time, a far cry from the sadistic Rube Goldberg death sequences that can be set up in the later games.

Even though the sequels improve on the gameplay greatly, the original Tecmo's Deception is still worth playing. Though some elements had not aged well, the hunt is still as compelling now as it was twenty years ago. Check it out this Halloween and show Jigsaw a thing or two.
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