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47

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

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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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and general hero of humanity.

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