Release Date: November 1, 2005
Buy 'TRAPT': PlayStation 2
Trapt is the latest in a series of booby-trapping games that started in 1996 with Tecmo's Deception for the original PlayStation, which was later followed up by Kagero: Deception II and Deception III: Dark Illusion. Trapt is the series' first spin on current-generation consoles, and brings with it much of the same style of gameplay as its predecessors. The sadistic gameplay remains unique, even nearly 10 years after the original (seems that other game companies have yet to see much potential in the booby-trapping genre). There are some technical issues, primarily with the camera, repetitiveness, and the sometimes difficult-to-follow story, but overall, Trapt is a good time, especially if you're sadistic.
The story revolves around Allura, a princess with an absolutely wicked stepmother who frames Allura for the murder of King Olaf, Allura's father. The stepmother sends men to capture Allura for the alleged assassination, and the princess flees into the forest with her maid, Rachel. Eventually, Rachel parts from Allura to distract the search party, and the princess finds "refuge" in a mansion which, unfortunately, is possessed by a demon. The evil power that resides in the mansion gives Allura the power to manipulate an array of traps which are used to maim the groups of headhunters that are out to capture her. Like any demon worth its salt, it feeds on the souls of vanquished trap-fodder.
If you're unfamiliar with the way the Deception series works, all you have to do is imagine a Rube Goldberg machine that is designed to kill people. Like a Rube Goldberg machine, your duty is to set up a series of mechanisms that perform a simple task in the most complicated and roundabout manner. In the case of Trapt, that simple task is to kill someone, which really pretty straightforward and common in the video game realm, to be honest (hello Mr. Thompson!). Allura isn't to keen on BFGs or swordplay, so she uses traps such as pendulums, guillotines, bombs, giant metal balls, buzz saws, arrows and other wickedly messy mechanisms that make a .45 look like a kid's toy.
The trick with Trapt is that you have to use the aforementioned traps in conjunction with one another for maximum effect. The flow of the game is as follows: You are placed in a room in a mansion. These rooms have different obstacles such as stairs, bridges, pillars, streams and the sort. Two or three enemies are placed in the room as well, with the intent to hack you up, cast spells on you and cause a general headache. By pausing the game, you can access a 3D grid layout of the room, with markers representing you and your enemies. Here, you select the weapons that you want to use, keeping in mind that they must work together for maximum effect. You can equip three types of traps at a time: floor, wall and ceiling, each one set off by a corresponding button.
A simple trapping setup may involve a pendulum, a bear trap and a buzz saw. On the grid screen, you can place the bear trap on the floor, with the pendulum set up above it and a buzz saw lined up to the side. In this case, you'd actually command the bear trap to clamp on an enemy as he steps on it, which keeps him from moving. Then, using the powers of evil (of course), command the pendulum swing into him, which lines him up with the path of your buzz saw. After waiting for the foe to stand back up, you'd then command the buzz saw to deploy, further injuring him and completing a decent combo. Timing is key in Trapt, and strategy plays a significant role in your success. The trap setup and equip screen can be accessed at any time, which means after a combo is up, you can pause the situation and get some other malicious setup ready for an enemy right when he gets back up.
Another timing aspect in Trapt is that different traps not only have different effects and damaging power, but each has a unique recharging period. While you can access the trap setup screen at any point to change the mechanisms, you have to wait a few seconds for each to charge, so you can't just keep shooting saw after saw at your enemies until they're dead. Outside of timing, another important element to take into consideration is space. Traps that knock enemies off their feet often have designated values that indicate how many spaces they'll be thrown. This helps in situations such as a spring floor/pendulum combo. If a spring floor knocks an enemy back two spaces, then you can set up a pendulum two spaces away so it's ready to slice and dice. Yeah, did we mention this game's sadistic?
Even more opportunities to inflict pain come in the form of room devices. These include built-in mechanisms such as chandeliers that fall and crush whatever is below, spinning spikes, falling pillars and a few other surprises that will help you in your quest. The better you perform in a room, the more warl – the game's currency – you'll receive. This money can be spent on new, increasingly sadistic traps.
Trapt's main mode is the story mode, in which you see how Allura's situation develops. There is also a side story option that appears after you finish a trap battle. This is basically another opportunity to earn more warl, with which you can create (buy) more traps. Survival mode just tests how long you can last against an onslaught of enemies before you life meter runs out.
The main technical hindrance in Trapt is the camera. You often lose sight of enemies, which is detrimental, because you have to be able to see if they step into spaces designated for traps. There is a lock-on option, but it isn't always effective, especially with multiple enemies. Also, when a foe is caught in the middle of a combo, it's sometimes difficult to see where he or she is on the map. An improved camera system could make this game much more enjoyable.
Graphically, things look pretty nice. The main complaint here – thanks to complete and utter desensitization due to video game overload – is that deaths aren't gruesome enough. Perhaps it's not an issue of blood thirst, but more accurately realism. When a guy's foot is snagged by a bear trap, then subsequently speared and guillotined, there should be some sign of physical distress. In Trapt, when an enemy is dispatched, he or she spouts a lame line (e.g. "It was my own grave I should have been digging..."), then spills a large amount of blood instantaneously. Other than that, enemies are acceptable and have a decent range in physical appearance. Sound-wise, there's nothing really significant, except the voiceovers are pretty bad at times.
In a nutshell, Trapt possesses a unique style of gameplay that can't be experienced anywhere else, even after four editions and 10 years. It offers a nice mix of strategy (almost reminiscent of Dynasty Tactic's "push, attack, push, attack" combo system) and action where timing plays a crucial role. Despite its technical drawbacks, it's a fun and quirky title that may leave you questioning just how moral you really are ... okay, that's being a little dramatic, but Trapt really is sadistically fun.