The woods are dark, mysterious, eerie and almost inviting. A shrill shriek pierces the air. The scene of a crime perhaps, or the cry of an anguished soul. You decide to follow the sound. What will you find?
Will it be the grisly scene of a crime, or the remains of a brutal skirmish? In your quest to discover what is happening, you let your guard down for a second. A second is all it takes. An arrow shaft screams through the air and pierces you. You stumble to safety, dazed. You try to peek out of the bushes you hid in to try and figure out what it was that attacked you. You see a demonic beast clad in armor. A sword slashes on the screen, accentuated by blood. This is the world of Betrayer. As you can probably guess, it’s not the best spot for a vacation.
You begin the story as a straggler, unconscious on a beach in the year 1604. You look around and see the tattered remnants of the ship that carried you to this distant shore. The landscape around you is singularly bleak, if not for the occasional cry of a bird. The environment is black, white and grey, and the only color you are afforded is the crimson of your blood, or that of your enemies. It looks like something out of a nightmare. A dangerous, uninviting, harsh land that is simultaneously frightening and imploring you to explore its mysteries.
You make your way through the landscape taking on foes in armor that looks like it belongs in the Spanish Inquisition. These foes are demonic creatures that show no mercy. You have at your disposal several weapons that are contemporary to the era, such as bows, muskets, pistols and a tomahawk. Killing your enemies isn’t easy either. You will have to bob and weave and position yourself to get multiple shots off at the heavily armored ones. If you don’t aim properly, you’ll become fodder for the charging beasts.
But as all humans do, you will eventually learn to adapt to your surroundings. You will learn how to use foliage, high ground and the wind to cover your tracks and gain the element of surprise over your prey. If you want to be a silent assassin, the bow and the crossbow are your weapons of choice. But sometimes, arrows just aren’t enough. In these cases, you’ll have to use your pistols and pump some lead into the conquistadors. But you have to be careful while using guns, since they are usually slow to reload. A missed shot could mean that you’ll be dead before you have the chance to fire off another one.
The Game Play:
As has become an RPG staple, you earn loot from the corpses of your enemies or from boxes that are scattered in the surroundings. When you’re hurt, you will have to resort to your trusty flask of water to repair your wounds. The flask has limited charges and can only be refilled at certain strategic locations in the map. So make sure you use it discreetly if you want to survive. If you die, whatever loot you have on your person is dropped next to your corpse. This might remind gamers of the Diablo series of games. In a slight twist on that formula, if you die a second time before you manage to collect the loot from around your corpse, it is lost forever. Long time RPG players might also find some elements from the Elder Scrolls series in Betrayer’s open world, sandbox style gameplay. There are multiple ways to reach any given point, and exploration is rewarded with treasure and different enemies to fight. You can activate way points at different points in the map, allowing you to transport yourself around quickly from one area to another.
Eventually, you will stumble upon different parts of the mystery that is the fate which befell the previous inhabitants of the colony. These clues are scattered throughout the game on scraps of paper. Written on these scraps are the hopes, fears and dreams of the people that came before you. They speak of a deadly conspiracy, mysterious apparitions and as the name of the game would suggest, betrayal. The map that you initially find yourself on is only one plane of existence in this world. In each area of the map, there lies a bell that when rung, transports you into an alternate dimension called the Otherworld. Here, you will find anguished spirits, demons and monsters roaming the land freely. You’ll also find here the souls that have been unable to cross over to the other side, and their constant presence makes the environment feel truly creepy.
The development team includes a lot of members from Monolith, who were the creators of the fantastic F.E.A.R series of shooters. Much like that game, there are several moments here which ratchet up the tension and suspense to a fever pitch. The atmosphere is a constant, chilling presence in this game, and the wails and cries of demonic creatures and souls will get under your skin. The blackness of the forest, the colorless, scathing expanse of land and the various monstrosities that roam in the nooks and corners of this world make Betrayer an unsettling experience.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much variety in the enemies you will encounter during your journey through the Betrayer. While the repetitive environment is part of the game’s charm, the lack of different enemies to fight eventually becomes tiresome, especially towards the end of the game when your weapons are much stronger. The mysteries you solve to clear a certain area also fall into a predictable pattern after a while.
While the game offers you a set of sliders which you can tweak to breathe some color into your surroundings, doing so takes much of the fun out of the gameplay. The incorrigible black, white and grey terrain is what makes this game interesting. The story is decent and fairly satisfying, even though you might still have a lot of questions after you are done. What makes the world of Betrayer worth a visit is the haunting atmosphere, populated by the cries of the fallen. If you are fond of horror games, or even just good RPGs, you should definitely check this out.
Betrayer Game Review Score: 7.0 out of 10
Section: PC Steam Reviews