We all love a spy thriller from James Bond to Kingsman, from the over the top villains to the epic locations and super cool gadgets. These are perfect cinema fuel, but oddly few games have really embraced the formula over the years. Canadian based Sweet Bandits Studios is looking to change all of that with their latest title Deceive Inc. – a slick multiplayer spy action title that will have you questioning everyone and everything. It’s a competitive covert ops simulation where your goals are to get enough info to unlock a vault, steal a top secret “something” and get out as quickly as you can. Only issue is… you have other spies doing the same thing and there are no points for sharing in this game. Attack it in solo or with another two mates as you do a bit of globetrotting, because there are a number of different “jobs” at evermore extreme and Bond villain themed locations.
Gameplay in Deceive Inc. is simple on paper but more challenging and layered, the more you play. You are tasked with getting out with the secret doohickey, but you don’t have to actually go for it… why not let another team to all the graft and you can just take it from them just as they are escaping. Or maybe camp out the room next to it and blast them away before they are able to hack the door to get in. It’s one of the game’s strengths that you can take on each mission as you and your teammates want. As for the most part you’ll be walking around in a disguise, with different disguises letting you into areas without causing suspicion. This system is built around colours which makes it easy to get your head around, with odds being you’ll aim to be a blue security guard off the bat, as they can go most places in the game. Get into a firefight and you’ll break cover and gunshots will echo around the level flagging you to the other teams in the area, though get to cover and your disguise will reset in a few moments. It’s a tense and gripping game at times as you never know who is who, as you could be shadowed by another agent or is it just a confused NPC.
Each agent has their own skills and abilities that will help you on the mission, as well as being able to unlock extra kit like a handy sentry turret to cover your backside or a set of goggles to let you remotely hack instead of standing next to things. So far so good, but Deceive Inc. has a HUGE, no MASSIVE issue… the gunplay is dreadful and it’s due to a number of reasons; but the two biggest are that it’s a cross play game, so console and PC players are mixing – which isn’t that bad until you spot there is zero aim assist, so you can’t hit jack on a controller while the mouse and keyboard mob are popping headshots left, right and centre. How bad could this be you may ask? Well as of time of writing I have played 79 matches and my win % is 5 … 5% … and I guarantee you 98% of those games have ended in a firefight, to the point if a fight breaks out, I am just standing there to be shot and search for a new game. It’s truly heart breaking as I really like everything about this game; the theme, setting, core gameplay loop, characters… the lot, but the gunplay kills it stone cold dead for me. There is also a real whiff of it being a live service game from the main menu, to the store, to the coming soon “Battlepass”. With agents being unlockable I can easily see a killer agent being added, but being locked behind a pay wall for those willing to shell out to have the edge.
Visually Deceive Inc. fully embodies its spy roots, having a strong 60’s tone and stylised characters with an almost Pixar vibe to them at times. Sound also feels that 60’s spy love with some cool beats throughout that set that sneaky mood perfectly. I would love to say Deceive Inc. is a brilliant game that takes a cool idea and turns it into a new fun multiplayer hit, but it fails to get one of the cornerstones correct and the whole thing sadly has to pay the price. If you’re on PC it’ll be great, but if you’re on console just give it a miss until something is done to level the playing field, because just now it is sadly broken. And yes you may say “but surely you can turn cross play off?”… true… but I sat for 20 plus mins waiting for an Xbox only match and in a world where a game of CoD or Halo takes less than a minute to find a match, it’s not an option.
An Xbox review copy of Deceive Inc. was provided by Sweet Bandits Studios’ PR team, and is available now on Xbox, PC and PlayStation for around £20.
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