Mortal Kombat Deception Review

Feb 16th, 2024

The 3D era of Mortal Kombat is often seen as an awkward phase in the series history but I feel the games have a certain charm to them. Midway would often throw many things at the wall and see what stuck for better and for worse. One of the more ambitious titles of this era is Mortal Kombat Deception, the 6th entry in the series.

Building off the foundation of Deadly Alliance, Deception features full 3D kombat with interactive stage elements such as transitions and weapons. Each of the 24 character cast have 3 different "styles" with their own moves on top of the dedicated special moves. Stringing moves and styles together can be really satisfying to pull off but the timing feels off sometimes and the amount of moves in each style had me sticking to one rather than switching between them. The special moves also have weird inputs, for example for Sub-Zero's ice ball rather than doing a standard down-forward "hadoken movement" the game wants you to press down and forward as seperate presses rather than a fluid movement. I had a hard time getting a handle on the feel but it stopped being a problem when I got used to it.

What truly makes MK Deception unique is the amount of modes available. First off is the standard arcade tower mode. This mode is what you'd expect, fighting a random selection of Kombatants until you get to the final boss Onaga the Dragon King. His boss fight is unfortunately kinda gimmicky, where you have to walk around destroying the kamidogu scattered through the arena in order to land some decent damage on him. It's an awkward fight than can be very easy or very cheap depending on how the AI feels that moment. The character endings range from boring to hilarious with my favorite being Jade throwing what is essentially tarkatan jizz at Tanya to make them see her as a rival male and kill her.

Chess Kombat is a fun side mode where you use characters as Chess Pieces. Each of the boards are based on classic Mortal Kombat stages incluiding re-creations of the Portal, Living Forest and Deadpool stages from Mortal Kombat II. I always loved these stages and the remixes of the classic tunes are certified bangers. Each character has set health values determined by their rank and can be increased by having characters stand on special spaces. Matches against the computer can be kind of boring but against the human this mode has the potential to be a chaotic blood bath. Puzzle Kombat is a clone of Puzzle Fighter with special SD versions of the cast. There's not much too it but it's satisfying to pull off a huge chain.

The main attraction of MK Deception however is the Konquest mode. A single player adventure mode where you traverse the realms of the Mortal Kombat universe. Your main character and resident idiot Shujinko gets recruited as a child by a spirit named Damashi to go on a quest that will span his entire life to attain each realm's Kamidogu, most of which Shujinko will run into by complete accident. The story is very silly and stupid with Shujinko taking orders and immediately betraying everyone he meets on a whim but that's what makes the experience incredibly charming. Shujinko is given the ability to copy the style of other fighters which the game uses to give you tutorials for alot of the character roster. Although the structure is a bit weird as the game will have you struggle to learn the timing of kombo strings before it'll teach you the special moves.

Traversing the different realms is the biggest draw of Konquest mode, especially with some of the less defined ones like ChaosRealm and OrderRealm that are rarely seen in most MK media. You'll run into many MK legacy characters and perform side quests for them like helping Tanya finda cave to ambush/kill Liu-Lang or helping Blaze recover his memory (oops). The main thing you'll be doing aside from the main story however is hunting for secrets which is where this game falters a bit. Unlocking characters or stages is almost always done by finding hidden chests in the overworlds. Not only will you need to search for hidden areas but many chests only show up at certain in-game times, basically requiring the use of a guide and the games "meditation" mechanic that basically acts as a fast forward button. The most egregious case of this is Liu-Kang's alt costume that can only be found at the beginning of the month during a 60 second window.

As entertaining as Konquest's story is, it doesn't stick the landing in the end. Infact it doesn't really have an ending. The story abruptly ends and you're basically told to just go play Shujinko's arcade mode. The ending he gets is really cool but it's a shame it couldn't have been presented in a cutscene rather than still images. Once you've beaten the game the endgame is unlocking all of the krypt content with the koins scattered across the world maps and dsitributed through the other modes. It has a wide variety of videos, concept art and music that all feature notes and interviews with the creators which I absolutely love and wish more games did.

Mortal Kombat Deception while having it's fair share of jank and questionable character designs is a worthwhile excperience that I recommend to any MK fan.

Hint- If you set the main Kombat difficulty to Max you can get max rewards in Puzzle Kombat even if the Puzzle difficulty is set to novice.

Screenshots from MobyGames