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By Bobfish18-09-2013
MrJenssen (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)

The Defence

Blackpowder Games
Blackpowder Games
Action, Adventure, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 6870
4 GB
4 GB

You remember F.E.A.R, right? The original (good) one. Everyone loves F.E.A.R...unless you're a pansyass that hides behind your couch when a butterfly idly drifts in your direction. Anyway, the guys behind that (as in the people, not the dev studio) have something new for us. Very new. Decidedly high up there on the unique scale, too. Almost entirely in black and white, apart from some choice applications of red 'cause you gotta' know when you're bleeding out, right?

Like just about every other game in existence right now, Betrayer is essentially a first person shooter. A period shooter (set in 1604) so most of the shooting is done with arrows, but still a shooter. Pretty much. Unlike every other game on the planet, that’s more like an after effect of the game design than a core part of it. That’s not to say that the combat mechanics are an afterthought, far from it, they’re extremely refined. Only that the emphasis is far, far more centred around exploration, investigation and figuring stuff out.

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood...dafuq is going on here?!

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood...dafuq is going on here?!

What struck me most about it is, despite being an Early Access game, and not even being the Alpha version for my initial experience, was the shocking lack of bugs. Everything just...worked. Controls were responsive, the game ran smooth as you like and everything. It just worked. The only complaint I had during my time with the game was the lack of support for mouse keybindings, but even that has been addressed now, with the official Alpha build. Along with introducing some subtle, but extremely well considered enhancements such as the effect of gravity on your arrows. This also works extremely well. After only a few test shots, you’ll intuitively know precisely where your arrows are going to land over distance. Robin Hood ain’t got nothin’ on you, bro!

Beyond that, Betrayer is...I'm not sure if you could really call it a game. I mean, it is a game. It has gameplay and objectives and...gamey type things happening in it. But it's just...it's on a whole different level. Maybe it's the inner hipster in me, but I really want to just call this an interactive painting and be done with it. From the very outset, where you're just...on a beach with flotsam and jetsam scattered around you, the only thing you really know is...what you were told in the blurb on Steam.

Did you see the look on his face?! Classic!

Did you see the look on his face?! Classic!

There's no lengthy intro to bring you up to speed. No intro at all actually. Perhaps you're in one of those tired old 'wake up with amnesia' tropes, but even that is unclear. It's a bold game, with some incredibly bold design choices. You, literally, know nothing about anything when you first start. And by the time you've finished what is currently available under Steam Early Access, you still won't know anything. You will have learned quite a large number of things, actually. But you still won't really know anything. If that makes any sense.

As far as I've been able to work out so far, you were on a boat that was betrayed (hence the name) by...someone. Possibly the same person responsible for the death of everyone at the first, formerly inhabited Human settlement you stumble across - Fort Henry. And that betrayer could possibly, maybe, perhaps, I'm not sure, be a Spaniard who made an arrangement with a local Indian tribe. Though he could just as easily be an Englishman. I just...I don't know, which is the whole point.

Are you happy to s...no, that's a tomahawk in your kidney.

Are you happy to s...no, that's a tomahawk in your kidney.

Rather than going for one of those mysterious premise with a nice, neat, tidy wrap-up of all the loose threads at completion, Blackpowder have gone for a far more vague 'here are the facts, you decide what they mean' approach. Everything about the setting, the premise, the very world itself, is left entirely ambiguous, yet it leaps out at you at the same time. Who is the woman in red? Why are the Spaniards raging monsters? Who killed everyone? Why can you see people as phantoms? Why do those same people see you as phantom? In short, you can sum up this entire venture with only one word. Bold.

Even the newly introduced colour slider, something I was initially extremely apprehensive about, follows the same pattern. The colours it adds are striking pastels that somehow are just as bleak and imposing as the standard, monochromatic approach the game was initially built on. How this will factor into the game later, perhaps with colour slowly returning as you progress further into the finished campaign, remains to be seen. But it is certain that the option was not added simply to appease the nagging nancies who can’t handle something even remotely unusual. The long and the short of it, folks, is that Blackpowder have already done an outstanding job and you should not be waiting for the final release before you pick this up. Was I somewhat vague with this preview? Well, so is the game.

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Yes. Yes you do!

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