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Deceive Inc.

Deceive Inc. hands-on impressions: Subterfuge has never felt so sweet

We've gone hands-on with Sweet Bandits Studios' upcoming multiplayer project.

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It was around a month ago when developer Sweet Bandits Studio showed off gameplay for the multiplayer spy-warfare title Deceive Inc. It was here that this game first caught my attention, as its suave Spy vs. Spy-like gameplay looked to offer up something that hadn't really been tackled in the games market for quite some time. Jump forward to today and I've had the luxury to be able to check out the game and to experience how its multiplayer systems work.

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For those unaware, Deceive Inc. is a strictly multiplayer game where spies (or teams of spies) have to secure and extract from a location with an objective (a golden briefcase). The catch is that every spy that is in the lobby is after the same objective, meaning you get a veritable tug-of-war style of strategy where everyone is looking to con and get a leg up on each other by capitalising on another person's progress and also by using traps and abilities to trick each other. It's a free-for-all style of gameplay where the player has to always keep their eyes peeled, as a civilian could actually be a rival agent in disguise, as could a plant pot, thanks to the mimic ability.

The catch is - alongside opposing spies that will cause issues for you - the objective isn't just out in the open. Rather, it's located deep in a vault that can only be accessed by activating three vault terminals across the map. These vault terminals are also located in rooms of added security that can only be opened by key cards (or by hacking them), meaning you have to find new disguises that will let you into restricted areas without the AI getting riled up, all while gathering intel to ensure you can hack doors, on top of remaining incognito and not arousing the suspicions of any rival spies, else you might find yourself in the firing line.

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And Deceive Inc. goes a step further by also having a cast of agents that all do various unique things, and can equip themselves with an array of different gadgets. For example, Larcin is of the Scoundrel class type and excels in causing trouble for other agents by being able to go invisible and steal items (even the objective) with a melee. Cavalière on the other hand is a Tracker and is better at following clues left by rival agents, in order to be able to blow their cover and eliminate them. Stack this up with gadgets that can either be used for utility purposes (such as the Bounce Mat to launch you to new heights or break a fall) or as tools of aggression (i.e. the auto-turret that will automatically target revealed agents) or for defence (take the defensive Umbrella Shield, which can block bullets as an example), and you get a game with a lot of moving parts to have to manage.

But, unlike a traditional shooter where too much complexity often becomes a hindrance, in Deceive Inc. the vast amount of options works in its favour, as it opens a broad selection of playstyles. Since you're only really worried about yourself in the game (unless you're playing a team mode that is), you can take the game at whichever pace you want. If you fancy being an aggressive playmaker, you can focus on getting the vault open so that you can be first to grab the objective. Likewise, if the long-game is more your speed, you can wait for someone else to do the hard work and then look to pick them off when they're waiting to extract. The choice is yours, but the one thing that remains a constant is that unless you're the last agent alive, you're most likely in someone's crosshairs.

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Deceive Inc. resonates with a slick 80s espionage feel. This isn't spy warfare of the modern day, where James Bond is essentially a hitman. No, this game is more like the Roger Moore-era of Bond with a splash of Magnum P.I., where wacky gadgets, subterfuge, moustaches and turtlenecks were cool. And because of this, the gameplay, albeit with shooter systems when all hell breaks loose, is more about remaining calm and collected and not panicking under stress. And it works really well.

Sure, there are areas that concern me a tad. Particularly the fact that you literally don't need to do anything except extract with the objective to win, which means that certain players can do very little and still succeed by capitalising on endgame chaos, despite the fact that others will have been moving around the map knocking off objectives left and right to allow the game to progress to that point. Likewise, the looting nature feels a little bit pointless, as you can pretty much get anywhere around the map without hitting much of a roadblock, which does beg the question as to why you'd spend time opening drawers and hacking computers for intel, when instead you can just find a fitting disguise and wander the map near unrestricted.

But overall, my time with Deceive Inc. proves that this is a game that is shaping up to be a lot of fun - even more so if/when there are more locations to explore and game modes to conquer. The variety and unique nature of the gameplay keeps Deceive Inc. feeling fresh and fun to play, and it's for this reason that I'm excited about launch day, whenever that may be.

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