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Betrayer Preview: Could Use More Than a Splash of Color

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 11:54 am by Justin Cavender


Betrayer is a first-person adventure from Blackpowder Games that’s currently available on Steam. It takes place in 1604, where the player arrives in the New World on the shores of Virgina to meet up with an English colony. Sadly, you’ll find no fanfare or welcome wagons waiting for you there. Instead, it’s a colorless ghost town with evil conquistadors running at you from all directions. I can honestly say I hate those moaning sons of bitches.

The Lady in Red

The purpose of the game seems to be to explore and try to find other survivors, but you aren’t given very much direction on how to do that. It feels like you’re completely alone in this game, although there’s a nice lady in red who shoots little messages to you with an arrow. You could call her messages “hints” if you like, but I felt like she was kind of a stalker since her “help” wasn’t very helpful at all. The red contrasting with the black and white landscape is a cool touch, but doesn’t really add much to the art direction or gameplay.

The red lady frequently shows up unannounced, sometimes getting you killed in the process. Luckily, the conquistadors I mentioned earlier aren’t very good at sneaking around, so their constant moaning makes it easy to hear them from a mile away. Of course, hearing them is one thing, putting them down for good is another story.

Betrayer Arrows

Death is Coming for You

The combat in Betrayer could definitely use some fine tuning. In the early stages of the game, enemies take up to three shots to kill. Even when you shoot those dastardly bastards in the face, they don’t seem to understand it’s time to move on.

If and when the baddies get a hold of you, it’s lights out. That’s right, one hit from them and you die. Drink Coke, play again. This wouldn’t bother me so much if my weapons were more effective. Muskets are a complete waste of time and only seem to anger the ghosts. Even if you draw first blood by shooting first, reloading the musket takes several seconds, and then you’ll be running for dear life. In my experience, arrows seem to be the your best bet for survival.

Be Sure to Pack Your Pain Pills

Visually, Betrayer isn’t for everyone. The game is presented in black and white, and while quite stylish, I found it distracting and painful to play. The scenery starts to blend together, making it easy to lose your bearings, which brings me to my next point: realism.

Betrayer provides little, if any, explanation as to what is required of you to move the story along, making it extremely preoccupied with the idea of creating a “realistic” experience of finding yourself in an abandoned colony and no clue of where to go. Remember, you’re just some poor sucker that hopped off the boat. You don’t have anything to nudge you in the right direction, with the exception of the stalker broad throwing you a cryptic bone every once in awhile.

You’ll need to completely rely on your survival skills to make it out alive. While I understand the intent behind making you truly explore in order to uncover the truth, the trappings of the game just made it too difficult and headache inducing for me to want to stick around.

Betrayer Towns Folk

Room for Improvement

To sum up, I totally understand that Blackpowder Games wanted to create an exploration game with almost zero guidance, giving you complete agency over how you want to handle the situation. Betrayer is both ambitious and creative, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Simple things like being able to see my position on the map, more effective weapons, and a color option would really have improved my experience with the game. I realize the loss of color is part of the story they’re trying to tell, but it just doesn’t work for me. Everything is straight black and white, no shades of grey. Not being able to tell anything apart makes it nearly impossible to establish landmarks and find your way around . I’d rather sit this one out than give myself more headaches trying to enjoy the game.

Finally, you have to spend time combing through the landscape, searching for the tiniest clue while lost in a colorless sea of nothingness. So even if you wanted to, there’s no way to just race to the finish. Instead, you have to stare through impenetrable scenery hoping that something pops out at you. No thank you! Betrayer is a game with an interesting concept, but it could use more work in the execution.

Presentation: 6

Gameplay: 7

Replay: 5


This preview is based on the early access version of Betrayer provided by Blackpowder Games and is available on Steam.

Follow Justin on Twitter @Edgyarmo for fun and festive tweets.

    • Whatever

      Seriously? Rating off Alpha and complaining about lack of direction when you clearly haven’t even entered the fort? Try spending more than 5 minutes next time, can’t believe they provided you a copy to “review”.

      • Snackbar

        LOL! I don’t think Whatever read the review…

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