What’s Black And White And Dead All Over? Betrayer

By John Walker on August 15th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Betrayer, which I’m sure only came into existence about nine minutes ago, is already available to play on Steam. Albeit an alpha version, with plans to change based on feedback. Sorry, what’s Betrayer? It’s only a new FPS from the people behind No One Lives Forever and FEAR.

And it’s a strange-un! I can express that little more clearly than via the new trailer for today’s launch:

Having had a very brief play with it, it’s not like much else out there. A monochrome FPS, with red for mise-en-scene, in which you explore the land to find out what those dastardly 17th century Spanish are up to. Being dead, mostly, it seems. Strange human shapes stand made of ash, while zombie-like Spanish soldiers moan and groan as they fire their muskets at you.

Actually, what it most reminded me of – rather oddly – is Jim’s game, Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Except you’re not quite as terrifyingly vulnerable here, with a bow and arrow from the off, and soon muskets to fire back with. That take longer to reload than a Spectrum game. Lots of crouching, lots of listening out for guttural groans

There’s a heavy emphasis on piecing together the mystery here. Examined objects add notes and clues, and you collect various writings, trying to fathom exactly why this island’s inhabitants seem so unwell, and what has been going on in 1604, island style. Which you can do as you please, picking your own route through the expanse, stumbling upon villages or enemy enclaves, and being made dead quite a lot.

Death sees you revived at the nearest village, thanks to the help of a mysterious girl who gave you your bow at the start. You have to retrace your steps to find your corpse if you want to retrieve your cash. Yes, cash. There is the most daft, gamiest thing of all time – a chest of goods sold in a village via an honesty box, which you dilligently pay for, rather than just take everything in order to not die on the island you’re stranded on. “I need arrows! The Conquistadors are coming for me! And I’ll only take five, and put these 25 doubloons in this here pot.”

I’m interested to dig further into this, to see where it heads. But there’s no doubt it’s pretty clunky in its alpha days, from a complete lack of an introduction, to some proper issues with sound. Enemy groans don’t seem to be using my 5.1 very sensibly, often coming from the wrong directions. And at this point, I think the biggest issue is the lack of player sounds. It seems enemies can hear you when you walk or sprint, and are less likely to when you crawl – but since there are no footstep sounds at all it’s very difficult to engage with without this vital feedback.

The black and white design is a touch problematic too. It doesn’t quite work, meaning it does more to obscure than enhance – it definitely needs a little more refinement for clarity. But like I say, there’s enough here to colour me interested (dyswidt?), and the unravelling mystery certainly adds a pleasingly compelling reason to explore its wilderness. It’s currently £10.79 on Steam, and you are of course buying an alpha build at this point.

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47 Comments »

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  1. Utsunomiya says:

    My eyes hurt just by looking at these screenshots!
    Finally, games are art.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      It’s a bad idea to use black/white/single colour like that. They should use highly desaturated colour + single colour instead.

      • Zyzyx says:

        Black, white and a single color is called a monochromatic palette.

      • adam.jutzi says:

        It worked well for Mad World I thought. (Cringes and waits for harsh words at the mention of a console-box game)

        Well, I guess it had two colours though.

        • apocraphyn says:

          Yeah, I mentioned that in the previous article pertaining to this game. Quite enjoyed MadWorld. Then again, that was playing off of the gritty “film noir” aesthetic (and a blatant rip-off of Sin City and Marv’s character), which I tend to appreciate a fair bit.

  2. trjp says:

    The first 2 comments I read about this over on the Steam Forums were

    “I would buy this if it wasn’t black and white”

    and

    “How come it needs a 660Ti if it’s just black and white?”

    If I were the developer, I’d have applied one of the rules of the “wise woman” – probably rule 3.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Well of course you would. Because she is wise.

    • frightlever says:

      Unless these Wise Woman rules are a Cracked list then you’re drawing a blank with me.

      • trjp says:

        Two things ye must know about the wise woman

        FIRST – she is… a…

        WOMAN!

        Second – she is…

        • The Random One says:

          WISE!

          staring wise tag

          • elevown says:

            So you do know her, then?

          • trjp says:

            No, just a wild stab in the dark – which incidentally is what you’ll be getting if you don’t start being a bit more helpful…

            For the people who aren’t about to add another line – a screencam no less

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4k1Srp-x4c

            Blackadder sought advice as to how to deal with his love for the boy ‘Bob’ so that no-one would ever know – the wise woman gave him 3 options

            1 – kill Bob
            2 – kill yourself
            3 – kill EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD

            Option 3…

  3. Lobotomist says:

    Well it looks terrible.
    Who ever thought of it needs to understand that some thing sound neat as ideas on paper, but implementation reality is completely different thing.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      The audacity! Thinking that people should experience something before forming a reasoned opinion.

      • trjp says:

        The difference between the earlier idea and your suggestion is that science explains why acid will cause pain when it contacts human tissue – but science has not yet explained why some people on game forums claim physical injury from looking at screenshots of a game they’ve just decided not to like…

        When it explains that, your points will work – as is, you sound like an ass.

  4. nasenbluten says:

    Its nausea inducing, like that other Greek fighting game.

  5. GallonOfAlan says:

    I would leave it mostly mono just for the sport of listening to the entitled whining.

  6. danimalkingdom says:

    I love the setting, we need more games set in the 17th century! I guess it’s a kind of Roanoke mystery thing?

  7. Lagwolf says:

    Why can’t they just do another NOLA game & stop trying to be so damn clever all the time?

    This game looks so much style over substance.

    • wu wei says:

      Game creators just cannot win: they’re criticised when they clone, and then again when they try to innovate.

      And when did trying to be clever become a bad thing in games?

      • Virtz says:

        Yes, because turning up the contrast and making everything black and white like a monitor from the 80s is now “innovative”.

  8. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I think it was a Splinter Cell game but basically it was always monochrome green because I always left on the night vision.
    Natural Selection 2 is usually sort of monochrome because I leave on the alien vision.

    These games have better graphics when that stuff is turned off, but I leave it on because it helps me see. If that is the case with Betrayer then cool. If not then at least I hope the lack of color means increase in performance.

  9. Wther says:

    These monotonous complaints would normally make me see red, but I’m trying to cut back on colourful language, so I’ll stay mute.

    • sidoaight says:

      More like monochrome complains, am I right or am I right?

      What I’m not? Oh. Okay.

      * slinks away into the darkness *

  10. boyspud says:

    Just played an hour of it. There are footsteps or at least sounds of you moving through the wilderness, but I agree, they’re far too quiet.

    Overall though, I rather enjoyed myself. The game has a serious early Hammer Horror vibe to it. Of course atm there is no voice acting, so dont be expecting the stage presence of Vincent Price, but what is there is charming. Unlike most games that call themselves horror, theres less shock factor here and more feelings of dread and tension, like proper horror should be.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      I’ve a great love of cheesy Folk Horror, (Blood on Satan’s Claw, The Wicker Man and the like) so it’s nice to see a game with a similar look to it. A Field in England meets a dying monochrome graphics adapter.

      Actually, that seems like a bit of an eyesore. A lot of an eyesore.

  11. Premium User Badge

    quietone says:

    Looks like Skyrim, with a tighter budget for color palette.

  12. Spakkenkhrist says:

    [insert whining here]

  13. lizzardborn says:

    I like it … seems I am the only one. But I played all of Arkham’s with bat vision on. So I am used to playing in one-two color environments.

    • bongosabbath says:

      I am so, so sorry. Those games were pretty with more than two colors.

  14. Monkeh says:

    Black/white + red is lovely, but here the contrast seems all wrong.

  15. alw says:

    Sorry, but the devs must have something wrong with them if they think this black, white and red thing is a good idea. If this game is £10.79, it works out to nearly £3.60 per colour. Imagine if something like Farcry 3 had used this ridiculous pricing scheme – only multimillionaires would have been able to afford it! STOP RIPPING US OFF, BLACKPOWDER GAMES!!!!!!11

  16. gruia says:

    )), yeah, its a bit pricey

    While I like the concept, the story falls flat for me and made me lose all interest. I was hoping that the character had some sort of sickness or disorder, something rather normal that alters the players experience. But noooo, there had to be Mystic shit and red girls running around.. boooooooriiiiiing

  17. brutaldeluxe09 says:

    I’m in to the intense style but will wait to see how it plays before I commit. I’m surprised that there are so many people who dislike it so soon, I’m just glad it’s not yet another generic sci fi zombie bore fest

    • Zenicetus says:

      Some of it may just be a personal aesthetic reaction to anything in black and white. I have friends who won’t watch old black and white movies on principle… they can’t stand looking at it… which means they’re missing a hell of a lot.

      On the other hand, some folks (like me) enjoy black and white graphics, but are wondering how well this will work with the game mechanics. It’s a cool setting but the game is still wrapped around FPS combat, as far as I can tell. I don’t want to play a game where I can’t see what I’m shooting at, or what’s shooting at me. I sure hope there’s a playable demo.

      • Ingall says:

        I’ve known people who refuse to watch black and white films too. Personally, I prefer it as it often strips away all the unnecessary detail and you’re left with what it important. Hopefully for me it will be the same with this game.

  18. 12inchPlasticToy says:

    I’d love to like it, but the colour effect reminds me of when I close my eyes and press on my eyeballs then open them again in the sunlight. Not that I have a weird masochistic hobby, it just occurs when I rub my eyes intensively. That, or being very tired. Or huffing poppers.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I could enjoy a game that presses on my eyeballs, makes me tired, and leaves me to believe I left a flask of tape cleaner opened in the room =/

  19. Ingall says:

    For the people saying that this hurts their eyes, are you able to watch a black and white movie? I’m just interested to see if it is black and white colour schemes in general that is the problem, or whether it’s because in a game you (I’m guessing) have to concentrate more.

    • Truckse says:

      The problem here seems to be the high contrast on areas with an excessive amount of detail, not the monochromatic pallete.

      The issue overall, is that it looks like they applied a filter over something they had already created. I’m sure that if they had designed the game to have a high-contrast black and white feel from the start, the result would have been another completely.

  20. SayNoToDRM says:

    If you take away the lack of colour then all you have is yet another FPS in a world that’s super-saturated with the damn things. On the plus side, the monochrome aesthetics might be enough to keep the Dudebro O’Foulmouth McShooty types away.

  21. unit 3000-21 says:

    It looks like a Burzum album cover.

  22. AwkwardTurtz says:

    Personally i love this game so far. Played it for a couple of hours and really enjoy it. There are some people on the steam community for this game that have screenshots of it in colour (not sure how they got them) but to me the choice of art style is fantastic. Yes maybe the saturation could be taken down a tiny bit but i don’t think some people in the comments get that this game is in alpha at the moment. This means that the developer is going to be improving the game before release. This means changing graphics options, adding features and the overall feeling of the game. So, guys in comments take that into account before you criticize. Improvements will undoubtedly be made very soon.