What does the 1960s themed, colourful spy shooter No One Lives Forever and the dark, depressing and hardcore Dark Souls have in common? Not a lot really, it was just a rather tenuous link to the fact that the developer of NOLF has recently released PC title Betrayer, which is heavily influenced by and takes many of its cues from the Souls series.
Made by Blackpowder Games, Betrayer is a tough and scary game with spooky environments and foreboding foes. It is not the first time this developer has dipped its toes into the supernatural realm as aside from creating the NOLFseries the team is also made up of folks who worked on the original F.E.A.R.
Whilst F.E.A.R. plied its trade in heavy weaponry, explosions and creepy little ghost children (and extending the fame of bullet-time beyond the Matrix movies), Betrayer is a more visceral and lonely experience, with its crunching and challenging combat, old world weapons (the game features a wide arsenal of early 17th Century weapons which the player can collect to take on the many aggressive enemies) and unique visuals.
Betrayer is a gorgeous looking, high contrast, black and white first person action adventure which unfolds as the player explores the wilderness of the New World having found themselves washed up on a deserted shore after surviving a ship wreck. The beach is littered with debris and no other obvious survivors. Without clear direction, the adventure begins once leaving the safety of the coastline and heading into uncharted woods, with the wind blowing and unseen insects chirping. It is a beautiful if unsettling atmosphere.
As you progress through the early areas, you find notes littered around the environment and along the path leading you forward. These notes begin to bring you into the subtle story and setting of the game world and also serve as the tutorial, much like the Souls series. Following these will see you equipped with your first weapon, a rudimentary bow and encounter your first enemy - all enemies and items of interest are highlighted in blood red so that they stand out against the otherwise black and white.
The natives that inhabit this unexplored land are far from friendly and offer a fair challenge whilst extending an icy welcome to the player. Although, who can blame them as history shows what happened in the aftermath of settling the New World!
There are many, secrets to unveil, NPCs to interact with and creatures to slay as you unravel the mystery of Betrayer. I will not go into detail so as not to spoil the experience.
Another feature the game borrows from Dark Souls is what happens when you die (and you will most likely die quite frequently.) There are no souls to collect, but there is items and there is gold. If you fall in combat, you will lose all accumulated items and gold, but you get one chance to get it back. Die again and its gone for good!
I have touched upon the game's visuals several times and as stated they look great in the crisp black and white but Blackpowder Games have given the player the option to play the game fully in colour. It is interesting to check it out and compare, to see what Betrayer looks like with a more traditional palette but I highly recommend sticking to the black and white graphics for the full intended experience.
I am a huge fan of the Souls series. I own three copies of Demon's Souls, two Dark Souls and two Dark Souls 2 - I know, dumb right? I also enjoyed the vibrant and comical NOLF franchise and had fun scaring myself playing F.E.A.R. therefore for me, picking up Betrayer was a no-brainer.
If you like what you have read and seen in this QuickPlay, then head on over to the game's Steam Page and put some money down on the only first person "Dark Souls-like" experience out there!