Have You Played… Betrayer?

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.

24 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    G-Lord says:

    A really underappreciated game. It is a bit repetitive, but it works great in shorter play sessions.

  2. RCoon says:

    Loved it. It’s the only game that did monochrome with red and actually succeeded. It’s even pretty great when you change the game’s settings to true-colour as well. Very underrated, makes me sad that it didn’t do so well. Pretty challenging too.

  3. Auldman says:

    I really loved this game. I even loved the later bits as the difficulty ramped up quite a bit which kept me on my toes.

    I did find the monochrome got annoying after sustained play and felt gimmicky. My suggestion is to turn off the monochrome and play in color because when you enter those world of the spirit parts the game will revert to monochrome for those and that’s fine for the effect is jarring, as it should be in a horror game.

    I had a lot of fun with it. Might have to fire it up again at some point.

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    phuzz says:

    Well, it’s monochrome if you don’t count black or white as colours (which they sort of aren’t), which would just leave red, hence, monochrome.

    • Blad the impaler says:

      Who are you to judge the colour legitimacy of black and white?! I feel that they are colours.

      • aerozol says:

        Oh man, this argument! Love it!
        I’m currently of the mind that black is a colour, while white isn’t (because one has pigments). But an argument can definitely be made that since black isn’t reflecting any light at your eye while white is, it could be the other way round. This is one of the best never-ending discussions to get involved in, in my humble yet experienced opinion!

  5. airtekh says:

    Very enjoyable and very atmospheric game.

    I do still think the ending is god-awful though; then again, I could count the number of good game endings on one hand so … yeah.

  6. Freud says:

    I like to think of myself as a graphically tolerant person, but I could not stand this style. It was almost painful on the eyes.

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      gritz says:

      Agreed. This game sounds like it’s everything I enjoy… but that visual style is just not something I could stand to look at long enough to play.

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        gritz says:

        And it’s not that it’s monochrome like a black and white movie or something like Limbo. It’s that all of the visuals are extremely busy, with super high contrast and very little grayscale gradient between the lights and the darks. It is brain-melting.

        • drumcan says:

          You can actually set the world to be in full color, there’s a slider in the menu. It’s a visually busy game even then, but color helps.

        • rcguitarist says:

          There is a slider to adjust the game from full monochrome all the way to full color. I played it with a slight bit of color mixed in.

  7. rcguitarist says:

    It’s a surprisingly scary game and kept me hooked until the end. Not many games have that affect on me. Kept making me want to play every free second I had.

  8. tomimt says:

    It was an okay game, a bit gimmicky and way too repetative for what it is. It has some decent ideas in it, but as such it would have been stronger experience with some more gameplay polish and variation in the things you actually do in the game.

  9. carsonoid says:

    Don’t forget to mention the audio design. This is a great game to play with headphones. I was overjoyed when I found out that you could actually hear some of the later enemies as they were sneaking around you and even see them early if you were careful Listen for the birds!

  10. slerbal says:

    Another game I wanted to like but found myself uninstalling after a couple of hours. Some lovely ideas in there but it never quite came together. Happy I bought it as cool development should be supported, just sad that I didn’t enjoy it.

  11. Barberetti says:

    Wow, I remember hearing and being interested about this game ages ago. I had no idea it’d been released since. I might grab it this weekend and check it out.

  12. vorador says:

    I really liked it. I found the ending underwhelming, and i think it was a bit short but i’m hopeful a sequel could fix both problems.

  13. racccoon says:

    Yes, sadly, it’s in the bin at steam’monop’s pc world, as updates took too long as is the case with all these so called wannabe alpha/beta bees, and I don’t think there’s been anything to write home about at all with the game.