First Impressions: Betrayer

I freely admit History was my worst subject in school.  I did well in it, simply because I forced myself to study harder to make up for my faults, but that didn’t change the fact that I hated it.  School almost ruined the subject for me with it’s mindless repetition of the same limited scope of events.  Why did I have to learn about the same battles in the Civil War year after year?  Especially when there are so much more interesting events to study.

Like, for example, the unexplained disappearances of the entire population of Roanoke, which are unexplained to this day.

I don’t think the colony portrayed in Betrayer is specifically Roanoke, as the game’s description says the colony is in North Carolina & Roanoke was in Virginia, but from what I’ve seen so far it may be based heavily on some of the theories of what happened there.  It would be easy to blame the disappearances on the Spanish Conquistadors running around trying to kill me, but it could just as easily have been the spirits popping out of the ground like daisies as I walk around the strange nightmarish alternate plane.  A curse might also explain why the Conquistadors seem less than human, with their raspy growls.

My very first impression upon loading up Betrayer was, “Wow… that’s pretty,” as the lighting effects made the water sparkle.  The artistic style was what heavily influenced my decision to purchase this game, which is a first product from indie studio blackpowder games.  The contrast between the black, white and red is striking.  And it is literally contrast, as you can go into the settings & change the contrast to bring the colors back.  But why would I want to do that?  The stark aesthetics only add to the atmosphere.  Though I applaud them for letting players customize it.

I also enjoy the stealth elements, although getting a headshot with a realistic bow & arrow is a lot trickier than in most games.  Probably doesn’t help that the Conquistadors wear full armor.  It’s really cool that you can use the wind to mask your footsteps to sneak closer to enemies.  Though I can’t help noticing when I’m playing with headphones that I have the loudest footsteps in existence.  Seriously, why is the ground so noisy?  I’m just walking through grass.

Audio in general seems to be really important, as you can listen for auditory cues to the locations of enemies, treasure, clues & ghosts.  There’s even a dedicated key for Listening, which is kinda tricky to pick up.  I know that sounds really lame; Listening is hard?  But the cues are localized, & at first I didn’t get how Listening was supposed to help me when I was just using my map to go to highlighted areas.  But I quickly learned that there are indicators on either side of the compass that get brighter when you’re facing the direction of the sound.  And once you get used to it, you don’t even have to look at the indicators, as you can just listen to where the sounds the loudest.  It’s very organic, & fits well with the hunting feel.

There have been a few enjoyable highlights so far.  The first is my mastery of the Rabbit Technique to evade enemies.  Most people swear by the Strafe, but I’ve found great success at hopping around like a lunatic while running away from enemies & letting my distressingly accurate period guns reload.  Hiding by the health barrels is also a viable method of survival.  The second highlight was that I am actually not the amnesiac of this game.  That honor goes to the Woman in Red, who for some reason can’t remember her name but remembers she has a sister (I don’t think retrograde amnesia works that way).  But she’s a good sport, & didn’t mind me telling her one of the first things I did when coming to town was digging up an eye, ear and tongue out of the ground — & that these things let me speak with the dead.  That I can only see by ringing this bell.

… Is this colonial Silent Hill!?

All joking aside, I’ve been enjoying myself.  So far there’s been a lot of intriguing, unique features in Betrayer.  The art style, the setting, the weapons, the stealth.  Hopefully the mystery is worth the effort.




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