Trapt Impressions

We check out the latest entry in Tecmo's Deception series.

Trapt is the US name for the recently released Kagero II: Dark Illusion, the fourth entry in Tecmo's Deception series, which began on the original PlayStation. The game's premise has a sadistic appeal that's hard to deny: Your goal is to horribly maim and kill foes by laying booby traps. Who wouldn't want to dole out some pain, right? We popped by Tecmo recently to get a look at the game with the man responsible, producer Keisuke Kikuchi, and to find out what to expect from the US version of the game.

Trapt drops you in the highly supportive corset of Queen Allura, a young woman who inherits the throne after her father is murdered. While getting a promotion through the death of a loved one always blows, Allura's situation is especially unfortunate because she's been framed for regicide. The young monarch hauls ass to try to save herself from execution by local authorities who are being egged on by her grief-stricken stepmother, a not entirely pleasant-looking lady. A few chance occurrences later, and Allura finds herself in league with the devil, who's apparently all about helping the underdog. One of the perks of having the "S" in your corner is becoming a temptress who uses traps to exact revenge on her foes. Once all the cinematics are done setting the story, you take control of Allura and begin kicking ass and taking names, albeit reluctantly, as it seems she's having second thoughts about chilling with the devil. C'est la vie.

The game stays true to the time-honored Deception formula that's become familiar to players over the course of the various installments in the series. You'll go through each mission by laying traps and triggering them on the foes coming after you. The key to success is more than just brutally murdering folks, although there's nothing wrong with that. To make the most of your situation you'll want to lay traps in such a way as to create combos. So, for example, you'll lay a bear trap down to immobilize an enemy, which will hold the enemy in place long enough for you to trigger a massive razor-sharp pendulum that will send your foe into the path of a falling boulder. Though such layouts take some work, the payback is nifty; you'll earn currency you can use to buy more items as well as traps to expand your repertoire.

Queen Allura has to team up with the devil himself to maim her way to a good name in Trapt.

You'll have three families of traps you can assign to the square, triangle, and X buttons. Each can be triggered once you've harnessed enough power by waiting for a gauge to build. You'll have to wait a few seconds for a trap to charge up again after you've used it, so you'll want to make sure you nail your target with it, since Allura isn't much for melee. One of the cooler additions to the Deception gameplay is Trapt's new Dark Illusion traps, which are one-time-use spectacles that bring a world of hurt on your foe and look pretty awesome. The catch to the ubertraps is that you need to figure out how to trigger them in the game and figure out where they actually are in each locale.

As you make your way through the game with Allura, you'll find that you'll be able to replay areas you've already cleared in order to complete side-story levels that will shed light on other characters in the game. All told the game will feature 30 side stories. Playing through everything in the game will let you unlock assorted extras, such as additional modes and costumes--a traditional Japanese gaming staple--for Allura.

Trapt's controls are easy to pick up, which makes laying down deadly traps a breeze. You'll be able to pause the action and pull up a grid overlay on the playfield so you can set traps in the room you're in and assign them to the PS2's face buttons. Once that's sorted out, you'll just race around and lead your enemies to your traps and nail them.

The visuals in Trapt have a stylistic flair that complements the game's European setting. The character and environments sport a solid level of detail and look good. The most appealing aspect of the game's presentation is the brutal but hilarious--in a sadistic kind of way--animations you get when you snare your foes. There's also a good use of special effects, such as particles and lighting, to complement the traps. The audio suits the visuals well, with decent tunes and well-done squeals and exclamations from your victims.

What's not to like about a game that lets you drop unsuspecting foes into awful booby traps? Nothing, that's what.

Trapt looks to be a solid new entry in the Deception series. The familiar game mechanics and the Dark Illusion traps work well together and certainly feel fresh. As far as a US release goes, Kikuchi stated that some minor tweaks will be made to the Japanese game to tune balancing, but in terms of content, there shouldn't be any major changes. Trapt is currently slated to ship this fall. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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