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Have You Played... Betrayer?

Have you played it? Yes or roaNOke

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Part horror, part stealth, part open world action-adventure, Betrayer [official site] is the first game from Blackpowder, a studio that includes former Monolith employees who worked on the likes of F.E.A.R. and No One Lives Forever. Released in March 2014, it’s far from an unqualified success but Betrayer wormed its way into my mind and I found myself returning to it a couple of weeks ago.

During the pre-release trailer-splurge, Betrayer was notable for its aesthetics rather than its setting or style of play. “It’s monochrome!” People said, excitedly pointing at the black bits and the white bits. “It’s entirely monochrome, apart from those red bits!” They pointed at the red bits, wondering if they were still allowed to use the word ‘monochrome’.

I prefer to describe Betrayer as being like a nun in a war penguin juggling chainsaws newspaper – black, white and read all over.

The important thing about this particular newspaper is that its colouration works. Betrayer is a better game thanks to its striking look. Important features in the world pop out of the background, either to direct your attention or to warn you that something wicked this way comes. Because the colonial outposts you’re exploring are constructed in a familiar open-world fashion and because the enemies are ‘orrible things that you can barely defend yourself from, the direction and the warnings are necessary.

For the first hour that I played, I thought Betrayer might be far more brilliant than I’d thought when I briefly visited last year. The first hour is brilliant. Repetition swiftly sets in, however, and while I’m determined to finish this time around, I think the latter stages might become something of a slog.

Whatever quibbles I might have though, I’m glad that Betrayer exists.

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Adam Smith

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