Sure, saving the world, rescuing someone and being a nice guy is great and all that, but gamers know that it’s so good to be bad. Why be a goody two shoes when you could seek revenge against people trying to manipulate you and your friends? Why follow the rules when groups of mercenaries or thugs are trying to kill you? Welcome to the cold, Machiavellian world of Trapt, where exerting your will and a bit of cruelty, along with some devious devices, lets you explore a darker digital side.
The storyline, which has been subtitled because the vocal dialogue is solely in the native Japanese, starts out on a somber note. Princess Allura and her father, King Olaf are paying their respects to the fallen queen at her grave. Unbeknownst to the princess, she has been picked as a perfect person to take the fall for her father’s assassination. Murdered in front of her eyes, she and her maid Rachel flee the scene to her family’s ancient castle, which happens to be the resting place of a demon known as The Fiend. The Fiend, deciding to take over Allura and use her as his servant, orders her to use his powers over traps to sacrifice their souls to him. Resigned to using The Fiend’s abilities to discover just what’s going on, Allura sets out to explore the castle and who’s trying to kill her.
For the most part, the game plays out like Hellraiser-Lite, with Allura setting ceiling, floor and wall traps around rooms of the castle as both a protective countermeasure and a form of attacking any intruders. Ceiling traps typically involve dropping things from the ceiling on top of interlopers to daze or crush them, such as large boulders, vases or pans. Floor traps are designed around immobilizing or throwing enemies, such as bear traps or floor explosives. Wall traps are a little bit of both, but also typically involve projectiles, such as arrow traps or magnet traps. There are also environmental traps scattered throughout each level, such as candelabras, chandeliers and pillars that players can use for extra damage (often resulting in instant kills). Players are tasked with setting up their traps anywhere in the room that they want, which then take a few seconds to power up and recharge after each use. You’re not restricted to these original locations throughout the entire stage however; you can move each trap as many times as you want, although you’ll need to wait a few seconds for them to be reset before you can use them again.
One of the facets of Trapt is that you can chain together strikes to effectively maximize your damage against an enemy, inflicting numerous hits before they know what hit them. For instance, you can trigger a bear trap, immobilizing your opponent’s legs before shooting them with arrows and following that up with a rock or a vase to the skull. Each successful hit releases money and energy from your target that can be collected and used for unlocking new rooms or designing new traps to use against enemies. You’ll usually be attacked to two opponents at a time, many of whom will try to combine their attacks against you. But you’re not simply facing off against soldiers. You’ll have knights, mages, peasants, thieves and other typical fantasy denizens making their way to try to kill Allura. If the heat in one room is too much, you can retreat to another room and set up new traps to spring on opponents.
As the game progresses, you’ll have the option to take different paths with the story via dialogue that will affect which “flies” are trapped into your spider web, as well as what kind of enemies you’ll fight against. Similarly, you’ll be able to get extra experience by exploring “side stories” that take a different look at the stage you’re on. However, you’ll often find that you’ll need to change your tactics depending on who you’re going up against; some enemies are immune to the effects of some traps or too quick to be affected by other traps. Aside from the main story, there’s also the option to take on as many opponents as you can within a time limit with the included survival mode, which is a good way to practice your timing with some of the more elaborate traps.
While you can set up some rather devious combinations of pain, the biggest problem within Trapt probably lies in the fact that it’s rather short and easy to play through. For the most part, the AI constantly runs straight at you, allowing you to draw them into the most painful set of traps that you can actively conceive of. Granted, some of these enemies will dodge them, and the traps can damage you if you’re not agile enough, but you can clear most stages in about five minutes or less. Combined with the fact that a large amount of the game is dictated to you via cutscenes that last for multiple minutes and you get the sense that you’re lightly interacting with a devious pop-up book instead of an innovative game mechanic. Perhaps that also comes from the fact that the concept of Trapt really hasn’t changed much since the earlier days of the Deception franchise from the original PlayStation. In fact, it seems much easier. Don’t get me wrong; it can be extremely amusing to blow up, impale or crush the game characters, but after a while, the stupidity of the AI starts to reduce the gameplay to a basic level.
Visually, Trapt is a relatively average game. Allura, the main character and the secondary characters have obviously received the lion’s share of attention to detail, with crisper character models showing off their medieval/gothic bondage wear, but for the most part, enemy character models or environments are rather generic and low res by comparison. This is readily apparent with the number of cutscenes that are strewn throughout the game, which you’ll go through because of just how many scenes there are in the game. At least the camera perspective is stable in these scenes, because during gameplay you’ll be forced to continually adjust the camera to find out where the enemies in the room are. Even then, you’ll find much of your view lost to environmental obstacles or quick camera shifts to highlight a trap going off. The same can be said about the sound effects: they’re relatively average, with somewhat expected sound effects from traps and a generic musical score. For instance, iron clangs and echoes off the marble steps and projectiles whoosh through the air when you trigger traps. The voice acting is decent, but since it’s in Japanese, unless you’ve got a sense of the language you’re probably not going to know whether it’s decent or not.
Is Trapt a good game? Yes, but in spurts and for a short period of time dictated by the minimal story, and probably one for god gaming fans with a darker bent to them. There’s something engaging about crushing characters and watching them scream; now if only the game could get around its repetition and simplicity of play, it might turn into a special franchise.