by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Conquistadors and Indians
Explorers of the New World were of great importance. They blazed a trail across the New World so that colonists would have knowledge of fertile lands and rivers to begin their new settlements. The threat of the natives and other newcomers to the continent were forever present and so it is with Betrayer. Although you're not exactly a trail-blazer, you will be exploring the countryside in order to find out what has happened to the populace of the English colonies in the New World.
The story in Betrayer requires a lot of exploring to uncover. Most of the story is discovered through notes left by the former inhabitants of the abandoned settlements. Essentially, you have become stranded in the New World after the ship carrying you is destroyed and washes its contents (you included) ashore. As you traverse the countryside, it appears that the inhabitants of the local settlement have had a hard time. The natives have, for some reason, grown hostile, Spanish Conquistadors have invaded, and disease appears to have been rampant, reducing the English populace of the settlement almost to nothing.
Combat and weapons
As you journey from area to the next, you'll be intercepted by a range of foes, ranging from Spanish conquistadors of various types, skeletons than rise from the ground and even what appear to be fire covered natives. Betrayer, as mentioned, is set in the New World, so weapon types are limited to bows (shortbow and longbow), Muskets, and Pistols. Of these, the bow is probably going to be your go-to weapon. The Musket and pistols have to be reloaded after each shot and although they inflict more damage on a foe they are cumbersome to work with. The bows on the other hand are quick to reload, but do far less damage. That being said, a well placed headshot will be enough to kill an opponent. Combat does take a little practice, working out how close you can get to the enemy before he spots you or picks up your scent for example. The wind plays a big part in this, as does your decision to crouch amongst the plentiful foliage. The AI of the enemy troops is fairly low, as they pace back and forth along their path. It is usually quite easy to pick off one enemy at a time without their nearby friends being any wiser. Probably a good thing too, as trying to compete against multiple opponents can be fraught with danger due to the reloading times of the various weapons.
If you happen to die in combat, you spawn in the nearest settlement...without your hard earned loot. Instead, the loot lies waiting where you fell. Recovering it is simply a matter of travelling back to the location and picking it up. Unfortunately, if you happen to die again on the way, the treasure is lost forever. Save points become largely irrelevant as you cannot actually load from a particular save, and are only used when you die.
Shop and inventory
At the various settlements, your unnamed character has the ability to visit the local merchant. Here, you can purchase weapons, ammunition - including arrows, quivers or pouches to increase the amount of ammunition you can carry, and various special buffs/abilities. You can also sell your loot and excess weapons at the store. The shop could be a little more user friendly but it does the job nonetheless. Loot is found on dead enemies and scattered around the wilderness, so it pays to head away from the roads and pathways from time to time.
Betrayer is a game that is not quite sure of itself. It has a visual monochrome style akin to an old black and white western when you arrive on the shores of the new world but then gives you the option to play in full-colour. Although the colour version does look pretty, with the lush forests, detailed mountain ranges, and wooden palisade settlements, I found the monochrome feature much more appealing. It certainly adds to the character of the game setting a much more suspenseful tone. Indeed the only way it could have matched the colonial setting better is if it was in sepia tone.
The audio is great too. Birds chirp whilst the sound of the sea can be heard when you're near the coast. The wind pushes at the trees and long grass. The suspense builds as you wander around the New World location with audio clues to let you know when there is an enemy nearby. Each of the various enemy types is depicted in the form of a different animal call - some howl like wolves whilst others growl like bears. And then, once they become aware of your presence, the war drums begin beating and your character's heartbeat becomes louder and more frantic, only to die down once the threat has dissipated.
Fun, but needs some polish.
Betrayer is somewhat of an enigma throughout the entire time you play. Is it a New World stealth shooter? Is it a puzzle game – do you need to solve certain problems to move through to various stages of the game? There are even ghostly apparitions that you can interact with at various stages that have their own stories and quests, as well as supernatural beings that you must destroy. The story progresses slowly through the notes left at the abandoned villages and via the contact with spirits, but it does so at a decent pace. Although the combat takes a little getting used to, it becomes fun to fire an arrow through a conquistador's head from a distance for a one-shot kill. There are definitely some areas that could use a little polish - inventory and shop system, the save/load points, but those things aside, the game is fun to play.
Love the monochrome visuals, old school weapons which work like they should
Lacks polish, especially in the inventory system