Overall Score 6/10 | Interesting and Unique, but Lacking Polish – BY ERIK PILLAR
Betrayer is a stealth-action game all about the unknown, and the devastation grief and unchecked hatred can bring.
Plot and Character:
The overall story of Betrayer is one we’ve seen before, but it’s delivery lends a freshness to the genre that I was not expecting. You start the game completely in the dark. You’re spawned in on a beach side, not far off from a wreck of a vessel which you can only assume was your own, and various goods and salvage has washed up alongside you.
There are no immediate instructions, or guides, or any hints of where to go or what to do besides a path leading further inland – to what you haven’t the slightest clue. Following the path, you find mystery after mystery as the world opens up. Your role as a protagonist often feels more as that of a witness to the happenings of the world, and slowly but surely you discover your locale and what has happened to create such a scarred and frightful land.
Much of the story is told via various clues left scattered across the different game maps available to explore. You’ll find a blood stain, boot prints, a native’s arrow, and a musket rod left abandoned – all signs of a battle and a story that builds a small piece of the greater world and mystery of the region.
When not discovering and hunting about the world of early Colonial America for clues, you’ll be questioning spirits of those recently departed and interacting with an amnesiac survivor of whatever event drained the land of its life and color.
This game is a bit of a slow burn. Don’t go into this expecting action and excitement around every bend, but do prepare yourself for an interesting world full of strange happenings and unknown entities.
Mood and Atmosphere:
Betrayer is a very atmospheric game at heart. The game is played, for the most part, in the monochrome, black and white. In a very artistic and risky venture, the developers included a bright vibrant red to the game’s otherwise faded world. What could have come off as cheesy and failing to inspire, only served to add to the overall sense of wrongness in the game world and added striking visualizations of importance while playing.
The only sounds are the haunting wails of mystery when you take advantage of the game’s mechanic to ‘listen’ for clues, and the oddly frightening animalistic grunts of enemies lurking near. This combined with the general sense of aloneness you’ll feel make for an excellent overall experience playing Betrayer.
Right off the bat I’ll say that while I did enjoy this game a lot for what it was, the general quality of its combat system falls into the acceptable to poor range. Fight animations are clunky, there is little creativity to battle beyond weapon choice and how you go about using the terrain around you to dodge enemy fire, and much of the various map regions are comprised of uninteresting forests or plains to wander between clues and combat.
All of that being said, you’re afforded little life and thus every shot fired and missed or hit you take makes a big impact on if you’ll survive a fight. It made for some truly challenging battles, and the penalty for dyeing was such that it was less punishing and more inspiring to try that same battle again but in a different manner.
I was somewhat disappointed that the in-game map system had every clue and location already marked for me, and as such removed a lot of the thrill of hunting for them. I don’t know why the developers included this into the game, as their other method for finding clues was quite interesting.
In Betrayer, there are two versions of the world – the light and the dark. You change which world you are in by ringing a bell at the main quest hub for a region, and when you do the change is immediate. The word of the light is populated by Spanish Conquistadors and Natives for opponents. The world of the dark is a place of shadows, wraiths, and you’ll be fighting clinking skeletons instead. Both worlds have a ‘listen’ mechanic built in to help you locate clues, and some events are only possible in one world or the other. To find a clue, if you chose to not use the map, you press the corresponding listen key and you listen. The louder the echoing whispers around you are, the closer you are to a clue – and the moans of mystery are loudest when facing the right direction to find them.
I ended up using the map most of the time for convenience sake, but there were a few mysteries not marked and I only found by utilizing a combination of both methods.
Overall, Betrayer plays like a budget game – which it is. Interesting and fun, but lacking polish. The game world is intriguing and will keep you invested for some time, but if you’re not sucked into the game’s story and world by time you finish the second map then you’ll probably be making for the hills and searching for clues to a different game.
Betrayer was developed by Blackpowder Games and released on Steam for PC in 2014.
Pick this game up for Steam on PC for $4.99.