The Night is dark and full of terrors – Betrayer
Red – the colour of love, the colour of passion but most importantly, it is the colour of danger. Red is the only colour in Betrayer, a stylish first person action adventure game from developer Blackpowder Games, and is used in a monochromatic world to help the player survive. Set in 17th century America, you are washed ashore onto a beach in the New World and travel to the nearest fort, only to find it abandoned.
17th century America isn’t the most popular of settings in games today and Betrayer uses that fact to create a unique experience with its fresh approach to try to deliver a new experience for players. Upon finding that the inhabitants are nowhere to be seen, you must follow clues to uncover the mystery of their fate.
The black and white world creates an unnerving atmosphere, and the feeling that something is amiss. Red splashes are seen throughout to help guide the player to collectibles, points of note, weapons – but also enemies. The world is split between night and day, accessed by ringing town bells; each world is inhabited by different enemies and challenges. Starting with a bow and arrow and a deadly tomahawk the game encourages intelligent fighting to survive. Enemies hit hard and acquiring the attention of even one extra monster could be the difference of life and death. Should you die, you will drop all of your items, similar to the Dark Souls series, and there is an option to go further down the Dark Souls route where dying again without retrieving your items will see them destroyed. Health is replenished by swigging your flask of water, which allows for two uses before having to be refilled by one of many water barrels set throughout the land.
Help is minimal, and outside of a very short tutorial at the beginning the player is left to fend for themselves with just the use of a map which will allow fast travel to discovered locations of note and a built in compass to the HUD to help with navigating. Everything else is up to the player. This can be frustrating at times when it means being unable to quickly find what you need to progress but also hugely rewarding when you finally do by creating a genuine sense of achievement.
Combat is tense with every shot counting towards your fate. The gunpowder weapons pack a bigger punch than the arrows but come with a reload time that, if relied upon, will cost you your life. Fortunately the enemies that wield the same weapons have the same affliction and this can be used strategically to gain an advantage upon their reload. But be wary, they can change-up their tactics too and catch you unawares.
Betrayer’s soundtrack is minimalist, not relying on a score to produce an unsettling world but rather a lack of – leaving only gusts of wind, rustling bushes and ominous clunking armour to keep you focused and on your toes. The high contrast visuals of the default settings can be changed to bring full colour back to the game, we felt however doing so had the game lose some of its charm and dunked its head back into the ocean of FPS games in the market where it didn’t stand out as much.
The game tells a classic tale of the darker side of the human race. It’s a shame that it doesn’t feature a voice track as it would have made the game much more immersive .. The game has some less exciting aspects to it such as the multiple instances of backtracking during investigations and the difficulty returning to areas on the map that are not fast travel zones because of the lack of being able to add points of note to the map.
Despite its setbacks Betrayer is a uniquely fresh addition to the marketplace. The combat could be more enthralling and the objectives could have been more engaging but as a fundamentally story-driven experience, Betrayer gives you your moneys worth.
Betrayer is available on Steam.