Deceive Inc. Review: Blown Cover

There are things to love about Deceive Inc., but it has one crucial thing holding it back.

There are things to love about Deceive Inc., but it has one crucial thing holding it back.

I had the opportunity to play Deceive Inc. a handful of times before its launch in two different preview events. In my first preview, I was suspicious that the game hadn’t quite found its identity, favoring shooting over stealth. In the final preview, I was impressed with how much Sweet Bandits Studios improved the espionage hero shooter with just a few simple changes.

And while I still enjoy the basics at the core of Deceive Inc., there are a handful of things that give me pause now that I’ve had the chance to play the release build with the community at large, many of which harken back to my initial less-than-glowing impressions.  

As I discussed in my most recent preview, Deceive Inc. works great when you’re in a match against those that have totally bought into the game’s concept: a hidden-role multiplayer game with an emphasis on espionage and stealth. However, my experience with the full release was a little less than satisfactory.

Because Deceive Inc. gives you weapons right from the beginning, many players tend to ignore the game’s social deception/deduction espionage aspects. Instead, they often start each match guns blazing. When that happens — and it happens quite a lot — matches are usually over before the initial insertion phase is even close to being complete.

While Deceive Inc. undeniably has shooter elements (there are guns, after all), its shooting doesn’t feel designed to carry the experience. You and other players often go down very quickly once the shooting starts. Considering that ammo is relatively limited and permadeath is baked into the experience, it feels like you should avoid firefights and lean more on gadgets and social deception to win, a nuance that feels lost on most players I encountered. 

Despite the push in that direction from Deceive Inc.‘s mechanics, there were only a small handful of matches I played that reached the end phases without turning into all-out firefights within the first few minutes, completely leaving behind entire elements that make Deceive Inc. compelling in the first place. 

The game would benefit from disincentivizing players from shooting first and asking questions later. Restricting gun usage by making weapons well-hidden items on the map (as opposed to something you have right off the bat) or adding severe repercussions for killing NPCs might help reduce how trigger-happy so many are when each match starts. 

If you’re able to find a match with players interested in the game’s espionage elements — using gadgets, donning disguises, copying NPC identities, infiltrating facilities to grab high-value packages — then you’re bound for a good time, but finding matches with people interested in that style of play happens rarely.

Image via Tripwire Interactive

Deceive Inc. lets you play solo or in squads of three, but the issues are exacerbated when trying to play as a team. In my team matches, I never ran into anyone who was using a mic, which made coordinating efforts nearly impossible.

Those situations are made more difficult because while Deceive Inc. has a ping system, it isn’t dynamic enough to account for completely non-verbal communication.

In other games that require teamwork, you can ping a whole slew of objects and depending on what’s been pinged, contextual information is provided. Being able to note that a safe has been opened, that a disguise has been changed, or that enemies are nearby would do a lot to promote player interaction, but none of that’s present in Deceive Inc. Consequently, it’s not really worth playing in squads unless you have a devoted group of friends who want to play together.

Because of that, I far favored playing solo, which is a shame since I actually preferred playing on teams in my preview events because doing so required real coordination that elevated the rest of the game.

At $20, Deceive Inc. also relies on premium-currency microtransactions and emphasizes loot boxes. On the surface, it seems only to affect the roster, where a majority of characters are locked at the start. You can play to earn currency and unlock them that way, but there’s also a predatory element lurking with their inclusion. 

Image via Tripwire Interactive

Deceive Inc. Review — The Bottom Line

  • Well-crafted, unique take on spy-thriller gameplay that mixes social deduction and extraction shooters.
  • Great sense of rising tension that harkens back to Deceive Inc.‘s spy-thriller influences.
  • Solid soundtrack.
  • Diverse roster of characters, abilities, and gadgets that cater to many different playstyles.
  • Limited player communication in co-op mode.
  • Many players have the wrong understanding of how the game should be played.
  • Micropayment-based progression model.

Deceive Inc. will live and die by its player base and so far, it’s not doing too hot. It’s a shame, too, since I’m such a fan of what the game has going on mechanically. The thing that’s ruining the experience for me is something that’s not technically a failure of any of the game’s mechanics, but rather, a failure of those playing the game to grasp its concepts.

Unfortunately, it seems like when you give players guns, they’re inclined to shoot them regardless of whether or not it’s in line with their objectives. Because of this, however, so much of my time with Deceive Inc. was spent in frustrating matches that stood in direct opposition to what I found enjoyable about the experience.

Featured image via Tripwire. 

There are things to love about Deceive Inc., but it has one crucial thing holding it back.

Deceive Inc. Review: Blown Cover

There are things to love about Deceive Inc., but it has one crucial thing holding it back.

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About the author

Peter Hunt Szpytek

If you're looking for him, Peter can usually be found dropping hot in Apex Legends with his friends. A fan of games of all types including JRPGs, third-person shooters and survival horror, Peter is a journalism graduate of North Central College and can be found writing for IGN, Digital Trends, and Gameranx, in addition to his work here at GameSkinny. Contact: [email protected]. Twitter: @PeterSpittech