Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Betrayer

4:00 PM on 04.05.2014 // Steven Hansen

Betrayer? I hardly even know her!

Awash on a beach amidst scattered boxes and waterlogged wood, Betrayer drew me into its chiaroscuro world immediately. Behind me was a blinding, blown out whiteness and an impassable expanse of sea. Ahead of me was intrigue, a mysterious red figure on the horizon, and a state of discontent.

Oh, it starts out strong, before I ended up feeling, well, betrayed. The unsettling, moody sense of exploration began getting replaced by typical, "gamey" systems and way more first-person shooting than I was hoping for. Betrayer is frustrating for its flashes of brilliance undermined by a death grip on conventions.

Betrayer (PC)
Developer: Blackpowder Games
Publisher: Blackpowder Games
Release: March 24, 2014
MSRP: $19.99

Betrayer casts you in a foreign world, 1604 America. Except as you wash ashore after a presumed boating accident, you come to find all the forts and settlements devoid of settlers. You have period appropriate weaponry. A bow to begin. Soon a musket and pistol, both of which take long to reload. And you'll need them, because you come upon Spaniards that are more monster than men.

What it does right is evident from the onset. The striking aesthetic (you can make it color in the settings, though it undermines the tone) makes the "New World" feel otherworldly. Get close to a deep black tree and you might see a blood red sheen. Presumably, it is blood. Red is the only color that shows up by default, highlighting enemies, chests, blood.

In those early moments of exploration, everything is unfamiliar and scary. Crouching when you spot an enemy will dull your footsteps, while moving with the frequent winds covers the sound of your presence further. And what winds they are. They remind me of my childhood, though they'd be buffeting my windows and not rustling trees. Anyone who ever watched someone try and field a pop up in a San Francisco Giants game before 2000 knows about the crazy winds out by Candlestick Park.

While stealthing around and dealing with enemies that make animal noises is all well and good, Betrayer's problem is that it grows stale when you kill your 400th foe. When you die, there's a Dark Souls-ian bloodstain that you need to reach before a second death or you lose all your money. In the first area, this was a problem for me, but once I got the hang of the game, along with a few extra weapons, it was inconsequential.

The merchant, characterized well early on through his letters you discover ("The weapons I offer are guaranteed to do more harm and do it faster"), is just one example of how Betrayer pads itself. Picking up incrementally better weapons only serves to get you to a point where combat becomes a chore. It becomes typical of any first-person shooter, though more cumbersome with the older guns. And enemies will respawn in areas and chase you forever, so you'll be doing a lot of killing. Ultimately I found it easier to sprint everywhere, alerting and dispatching enemies, than play it safe.

Betrayer fails when it tries to be a traditional game. There are several areas to explore, most of which look similar. And these expanses need to be traversed when you become chief problem solver to the dozens of colonist spirits that cover the area. Central locations, like forts, will have a bell that, when rung, changes the world to an even darker, spookier world wherein you can see and talk to spirits.

The enemies change in this state, too, opting for actual skeletons that collapse like Disney's "Skeleton Dance." And the weird thing is that it's still scary in spite of itself. The combat ends up having no stakes. On the adventure/exploration side, you're mainly mashing "x" to listen to a severed ear you find, which will direct you to pertinent clues, more spirits to talk to, all whom need some sort of closure (and most of whom as huge assholes). It gets boring, basically. Fetch quests and too much tepid shooting.

But it is still scary, still moody, and that's a testament to some of the best sound design I have ever heard in a game. Even after ringing the bell dozens of times, the loud crash when the world shifted to an extra dark state still sent a chill down my spine. So too did all of the ambient noise. Not just the wind. Those goofy skeleton enemies? When they'd -- or other ghastly creatures -- erupt from the ground, I'd still be unsettled because of the great soundwork despite them being, well, goofy and non-threatening. Strafe and the skeletons can't touch you.

As much as the "game-iness" tries to undermine the atmosphere, the sound design is always fighting back and making you uncomfortable. In conjunction with the striking look reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch's surreal Dead Man, Betrayer hits some high notes.

Unfortunately, it's hard to get invested in Betrayer's central mystery (or side stories) with how stretched out it is. A moody and affecting explorative experience is padded out with excessive combat and (necessary) fetch quest equivalents that drag you all along its repetitious landscape (forcing you into more and more combat) to pick up clues and talk to spirits.

You basically follow a GPS from clue to ghost to clue to ghost the entire time. That and track down a bunch of statues that need to be purified before you can move on to the next area. These contrived, familiar mechanics rob Betrayer of its initial promise: taut stealth against monstrous creatures and mystery.

Instead, there's a merchant shop in every major location so you can get a charm that confers 4% faster running and you can't dig certain items out of the ground until you find a shovel way late in the game. I'd much rather see my character, in first-person, manically clawing at rocks, fingernails tearing off, punctuating lines of blood like the dot on an exclamation point. It would at least fit with the tone the rest of Betrayer is trying to set.



Betrayer - Reviewed by Steven Hansen
Average - Like a meal of lukewarm water with white bread. It filled my time and my belly, but lacks any discernible flavor or nutritional value. A game that left me no different than it found me. Just passing through.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure dtoidsteven Tips
Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

  Mar 08

Eerie action game Betrayer releasing March 24

Out of betrayerly access and onto a finished release

  Aug 05

Betrayer is the debut game from Blackpowder Games

This striking trailer is brought to us by ex-Monolith devs

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Black Friday pick ups so far are Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Titan Souls and tomorrow Devil Survivor 2 Break Record ($29.99 at GameStop).
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
This thanksgiving, give thanks for the fact that your family wasnt 1 of the 3 to have picked out a wasp filled turkey, buying a meal and becoming a meal. Next year, may not bring such.....dissapointing results.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So I'm pretty sure you all should be giving thanks to Nekro. For he is the one true perfect being. Be thankful that your lives have been blessed by the addition of a Nekro. For that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Happy Thanksgiving Dtoid! Here's hoping you didn't fall off a chair while hanging Christmas lights and bash your shin and foot into the concrete like I did!
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
Listening to Pokémon SoulSilver OST while doing some college work. Suddenly I feel a great amount of guilty taking over me for loosing my PokéWalker 2 years ago... :(
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you thanksgiving motherfuckers. 5 favourite Arcade games (as in coin-op) No order necessary. Go!
Lawman avatarLawman
Happy Turkeygeddon everyone! I'd like to spend it playing something, but I'm too busy drinking instead. Alcohol is better. Alcohol mixed with games is best, but unfortunately, I'm a little too lost to the world for that right now!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I've got to try Pocket God vs. Desert Ashes. Mostly because I loved pocket god when it came out. Great memories
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I intended to say something important and relevant to how pretty Atelier Shallie Plus looks on the Vita but then I got this annoying sudden nosebleed [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Time for Thanksgiving dinner, then more Shantae! [img][/img]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
So Macy's parade had that performance from "The Wiz" which made me realize I'd much rather have seen "The Wizard" where everyone is dancing around wearing power gloves. Come on Nintendo, THE TIME IS NOW!
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Happy #Darksiders2 day-I mean Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Shinta avatarShinta
Transformers Devastation PS4 - $24. The Order 1886 $10. Digital flash sale on PSN. I think I'm going to have to bite on both these. And I hate digital if I can avoid it ...
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Remember folks, don't forget to smoke cigarettes in between courses during thanksgiving to help in digestion.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
For friends in UK that want a 3DS XL - 99.99 pounds [url][/url]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Playing New Vegas again because reasons, it occurs to me that it'd be nice if Old World Blues gave me the option to move the Brotherhood of Steel to the Big MT instead of wiping them out for Mr. House.
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Near heart attack as for a minute it seemed like the A button of my 3DS was busted. It's fine now though, I think we'll live.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
There's now a £4/$5 Raspberry Pi. So cheap it's a cover extra on the latest Mag Pi. Based on the original chipset, it's single core but clocked at 1Ghz so it's quite a bit faster and oh so tiny. I can't wait to see what folks build with it.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
After a lifetime of not spending a single cent on FTP games, I finally broke and dropped €1 in the Nintendo Badge Arcade. I just had to have all the Luigi badges asap. I feel dirty. Plus side, my 3ds will be covered in Luigi.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
The postman just brought me gifts i bought for myself ... [img][/img] [img][/img]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -