Being the hero is so dull. I mean... it's always the same: Grab your sword, run to the castle of evil, fight against the boss, easily beat him, save the world, everybody loves you, right?Well, perhaps it's time to play from another angle. After all, playing for the other team has its benefits, too.In 1996, for the Sony PlayStation, Tecmo released Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness, which, while not a smash success by any stretch of the imagination, allowed the player to do something not often seen in video games: play as the bad guy. The goal of the story was to resurrect Satan, and instead of doing so with direct combat, you utilized a series of deadly traps that you placed throughout your castle. The game did well enough to spark a small series.The series in general follows the same pattern, with you having to protect your castle for one reason or another, with Death Traps and gizmos. The biggest selling points in general is the same: play from an unusual point of view (the Trap Master) and kill your enemies in gruesome ways. In most of them you are plain evil, but some of them try leave you in a more ambiguous position, where it's not clear which side is the good one. This actually makes the experience stronger, as one is not sure if what you are doing is right or wrong.The Deception games consist of:
Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness (Kokumeikan) — Released in July, 1996. As a nameless prince of Zemekia, the player has been framed for the murder of the king by his brother Yurias in a bid for the throne, and he is spirited away by a demoness named Astarte to make a Deal with the Devil to get his revenge.
Kagero: Deception II (Kagero: Kokumeikan Shinsho) — Released in July, 1998. A girl named Millennia is caught up as a Meat Puppet in a power struggle between the Timenoids and the humans over whom they reign.
Deception III: Dark Delusion (Soumatou) — Released in December, 1999. A girl named Reina has been abducted, along with her family, to be sold into slavery in a neighboring kingdom. She is freed by a rebel faction and must decide whose side she is on.
Trapt (Kagero II: Dark Illusion) — Released in June, 2005. Princess Allura has been framed for the murder of her father and flees to a dark castle to escape execution, and while there, a demon offers her a chance for revenge.
Deception IV: Blood Ties (Kagero: Darkside Princess) — Released in March, 2014. Centered around a girl named Laegrinna, an "animated fragment of the imprisoned Devil's soul", she operates under the guidance of three servants: Veruza, Caelea, and Lilia.
Demonstrating how inviolate The Wiki Rule is, the series now has a fledgling wiki here.
This series provides examples of:
Action Girl: Curiously, female PCs outnumber the males four to one.
A Lighter Shade of Grey: Especially prevelant in Deception 4, where the holders of the twelve verses are all rather evil. They range from a corrupt mercenary, to a psychopathic nun.
Aerith and Bob: While some characters have normal names, such as Gordon, the series also has some truly ridiculous names, such as Goatbone, Scuba, Loongear, and others, too numerous to list.
An Adventurer Is You: Or rather, the invaders are adventurers. Each game in the series has a different set of classes the invaders can be comprised of, each of whom have different attacks and react to traps in their own ways.
Antiheroic Mime: The player-character in Invitation to Darkness, Millennia.
The Atoner: Possible for the player, if the correct Dialogue Trees and courses of action are so chosen throughout the games.
Awesome but Impractical: The Red Dragon summoned monster. It does tremendous damage to multiple foes, but it's so large that it usually cannot fit into rooms in the castle, plus one of its components is rare.
Black Comedy: Quite a bit. For instance, in Chapter 3 of Invitation to Darkness, you kill a family who are coming to collect a bounty on you for an operation to save their child.
Blue Blood: Both literally and figuratively in Kagero. The Timenoids are a race of beings with blue skin who rule over humans.
Bonus Boss: Pretty much any gaiden character in Trapt, but especially the final bosses of each path: Millennia (trap-tripper) and Kendal (creates illusions), each more inexplicable than the last. (That last one is very "Congratulations"-y.)
Boring but Practical: The vase traps. They're what will net you your highest combos early on, especially if you never repeat yourself in a combo.
Your starting traps. None of them are fancy, but they have the advantage of having faster cool-down times than the more damaging traps you get later. Also given that most of the rooms that you fight in are fairly cramped, starting traps like Pushwall and Springboard are far more precise at setting up a victim for combos amd room traps than their high-end counterparts which will likely shoot the victim across the room to safety. Finally a suprising number of your starting traps have good hitting power like the Boulder or Swinging Blade. While some of your starting traps will go obsolete, a fair number of them are good to the end of the game.
Burn the Witch!: Invitation to Darkness starts with the player-character being burned at the stake for murdering his father.
Came Back Wrong: Fiana if Wizbone kills her and you accept Astarte's offer.
The Cameo: Suezo from Monster Rancher appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap. Previously, Ardebaran from Invitation to Darkness appeared in a Monster Rancher game as a secret monster.
Cast from Lifespan: In Deception III, this is the price for using traps too much—you'll wind up killing yourself eventually. Unfortunately Reina doesn't have any choice because a whole lot of people keep trying to kill her.
Charge Meter: Traps in the sequels must recharge between uses, but can otherwise by used indefinitely.
Class and Level System: Blood Ties awards experience for Elaborate, Sadistic and Humiliating traps independently, to be used for unlocking more traps in that category. It's in your best interest to try and balance them, though.
Clothing Damage: Deception IV: Blood Ties has this feature where attacking armored enemies with the right kind of attack (different for each one) causes their armor to be blasted off, leaving them in their underwear (and vastly reducing their life gauge). Female armored enemies are usually wearing some kind of string bikini underneath.
Combos: Introduced to the series in Kagero to fantastic effect. Chain together more traps and receive more points.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: in Blood Ties, Elaborate traps are blue, Sadistic traps are red, and Humiliating traps are yellow. Even the patron Daemon of each method dresses appropriately!
Content Warnings: Invitation to Darkness only garnered a T rating from the ESRB, but it includes a separate blurb on the jewel case noting the satanic elements of the storyline.
Continuity Nod: Each game takes place in its own little universe. However, one of Kagero's endings implies that Millennia would go on to become Astarte. Also, Ardebaran's mask appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap.
De-power: In Deception IV, the armour-breaking mechanic might be this. Enemies in armour, not only take less damage from any attacks that don't bypass defense, they also have total immunity to certain attack types such as boulder drops. If you manage to break the armour of an enemy, they lose all the benefits including the immunities.
Dolled-Up Installment: They were only a "series" in the loosest sense in Japan. In the US, they're a consistently named series... up until Kagero 2, which was the first straight-out sequel in Japan.
Easter Egg: Rename Millennia "Astarte" and you start with some extra Ark to spend.
Elite Mooks: The Hellknights from Deception III are this trope. These guys are almost indestructible - taking only 1 point of damage from anything that doesn't ignore protection, they're immune to the effects of the summon ring, they have a long distance rush attack where they practically fly at you and a single swipe from their scythe will rip out large chunks of your health. A last kicker is they can also teleport. Most bosses in the game aren't even close to matching the deadliness of a Hellknight.
Enemy Scan: Each game lets you check out the statistics of invaders before you enter into combat with them.
Equipment-Based Progression: Invitation to Darkness has a leveling system whose only real purpose is to unlock new breeds of trap and monsters for you to research (the stats in that game mean very little overall). The sequels focus strictly on traps and forging new ones from old templates.
Fragile Speedster: You can't attack directly, the enemy can inflict truly devastating status ailments (often via guided projectiles too!!!) and after Deception 1, your own character is only a shade more enduring than the baseline grunts in the early levels. So it's a good thing that few enemies can keep up to your character when she starts running and you have the abililty to roll away from an attack - the closest the enemy have are the agile characters like ninjas and thieves jumping away from a limited set of traps. Just be careful, some enemies have a rush attack that's more like low altitude flight and certain bosses can have ones that can almost reach the end of a room.
Friendly Fire Proof: Played straight with the enemy amongst each other, someone who accidentally gets an arrow from his buddy will take no damage from it. Brutally averted by your own traps, they're just as dangerous to you as they are to your enemies. Especially amusing is watching your girl grab her crotch and crumple in a heap after getting dinged by the Delta Horse.
Gaiden Game: Judging by Deception IV, Trapt is officially this now in the overseas "canon".
Genre Shift: First-person RPG for the first game to third-person action-RPG for the sequels.
Green Lantern Ring: The magical stone which allows Reina to control traps in Dark Delusion.
Groin Attack: The Delta Horse trap. A steel-plated wooden horse that shoots out of the ground at rocket speed, agony and torture for both sexes. Extra points for cutting through the defense stat and no enemy having any immunity or resistance to it. Enemies killed by the Delta Horse have their deaths described as "...humiliated by the Delta Horse".
Heal Thyself: Special gem-like "loons" can restore the player-character's health to full once per chapter in the sequels. Invitation to Darkness uses more traditional medical herbs and antidotes. In Deception IV, Laegrinna can learn to heal herself up to 3 times per battle. Some bosses can do the same, which greatly increases the length of a fight.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Reina, who can be renamed (like every game's protagonist), is referred to exclusively in chapter summary screens as "the heroine". This is in text, mind you.
Hide Your Children: Averted. The Psychic class of invader is made up of young girls, and Reina's little brother is murdered by Miguel during a Fade to Black moment.
Human Resources: Used in Invitation to Darkness either to collect gold, restore the Mana Meter, or to harvest the actual bodies to create monsters.
Humiliation Conga: All the games have traps that hurt the victim's pride more than their health. Blood Ties has Humiliating Demise as an entire trap category, and Lilia will love it if an invader whacks themselves with a garden rake, slips on a banana peel, gets a pumpkin mask dropped on their head, then stumbles into a cannon that shoots them circus-style into a dangling cage.
Identical Grandson: The player-character in Invitation to Darkness shares ancestry and the same name with one of the Legendary Braves.
An Interior Designer Is You: You can add rooms to the Castle of the Damned in the first game, though you cannot subtract any that were there from the start.
Medieval Morons: Villagers and other peasant-types show up to your lair for various reasons (such as being dragooned into it by mercenary thugs) even at some surprisingly late stages in the game. Mostly there as black comedy relief as you kill them with ease in some particularly choice method.
Monster Clown: One of these is responsible for kidnapping Millennia as a child and taking her to the Timenoids.
More Dakka: Chaos Needle and Gatling Arrow traps can fire 5 shots at a rapid pace. They don't do much damage, especially to enemies with high defense, but they do provide an easy multi-hit combo. Unfortunately for you, some enemies have this as well and can shoot a painful series of projectiles that are guaranteed to hit if you get pegged by the first one.
Most Definitely Not An Impostor: 3 and Trapt both include some schmo-ette pretending to be the evil queen, seeking your help. Fails the smell-test both times, not that that means you can't accept.
Screw This Im Outof Here: Some of the more cowardly enemies will try to escape from your lair if they lose over half their life bar. They'll even have a cut-scene saying something to this effect if they successfully leave.
Schizo Tech: In Deception IV, enemies range from girls carrying bows and arrows to enemies in armour out of Halo or Killzone who are carrying gas guns and energy rifles. One boss, a deranged nun even boasts of carrying a gun given by God (and it sure hits like it too!!!).
Scratch Damage: In Deception III later enemies have defense so high that a lot of low damage traps will do only a single point of damage. Arrow traps are especially hard hit by this since many of them only do damage rather than move an enemy around or hold them. Some enemies will actually take only one point of damage even from your hardest-hitting traps, so low-damage multi-hit traps become better than hitting with a single Spike Ball. Later games don't have enemies with such ridiculously high defense, this keeps your old traps from going obsolete and allows you to use a wider variety of traps.
Subtitle Name Change: The change from "Alicia" to "Allura" was strictly in the text. The voice acting still very obviously uses "Alicia".
Suicidal Overconfidence: Played straight with most invaders, but a few will realize what they're up against and make efforts to escape. Whether they succeed or not can possibly change the storyline.
Summon Magic: Only available in Invitation to Darkness, the player-character can call forth special monsters which damage invaders. What's scary is that one of them is possibly Princess Fiana depending on how you play.
Supernatural Elite: In the second game, humans are basically second-class to a nobility consisting of 'Timenoids' - blue-skinned immortals. As the player, you are initially a slave to the Timenoids, but eventually, you must decide whether to help them brutally suppress an emerging human uprising, help La Résistance destroy the Timenoid elite, or just Kill 'em All.
Talking Is a Free Action: Even when they're out for your blood, when an enemy invader finds you, time will gladly stop around you to give them a chance to say what they need to.
A Taste of Power: The first game lets you utilize Volt Cages to capture Ardebaran and Idorigo (and optionally Doneal). You don't get access to such traps again until Chapter 11, and even then you have to spend gold to create new ones.
Explicitly personified in Blood Ties. Laegrinna's three accomplices rate your kills in three terms — Sadistic Torment, Elaborate Death, and Humiliating Demise. Each of them offer optional objectives based on their respective virtues.
Villain Protagonist: Each and every main character holds an explicitly evil power and spends most of their time ruthlessly slaughtering anybody unlucky enough to enter their homes. Later protagonists end up in a more morally gray area, but none of them are ever close to being heroes.
And right back to being totally evil with Deception IV, where the protagonist is literally the daughter of the devil himself and has no goal other than to kill people. 3 and Trapt's protagonists had the excuse of simply trying to survive using their weird powers. In IV however, if you choose to spare Celia, this leads to an ending where Laegrinna and Celia end up using the Devil's power to make the world a better place.
What Measure Is a Mook?: The games often go to some bother to make it clear that you're not killing anonymous mooks, but people, with actual names, backstories and personalities. The terrible acting keeps this from having the effect Tecmo was going for, however.