Washed ashore onto a Virginian shore in Colonial America in 1604, you quickly find your way to a fort, expecting to join a struggling colony. Instead you find the fort abandoned, haunted by ghosts and followed by a mysterious woman in red. The setting is the best part of the game: exploring a chunk of history that has rarely, if ever, been explored by games. Religious conflicts, the Spanish fighting the Englishmen, it’s a mildly interesting historical exploration mixed with fantasy/horror elements, but it’s not as engaging as it should be. The overall arc of the plot is quite dull and not nearly as interesting as the setting allows it to be. There is small beauty in the side stories, robust ideals of horror mixed with fantasy, presented in small bite sized pieces; the side quests are easily the best part of Betrayer. Branching out and exploring the world really opens up some interesting theories and lets you figure out what happened on your own, while giving you just the right amount of details. Mixing 17th century New World Era with a horror fantasy element was a bold move, and while it doesn’t execute well over the arc of the main story, it’s the finer elements that make it memorable.
Right off the bat, Betrayer looks impressive as hell in the visuals department. Utilising a wonderful monochromatic scheme with splashes of red; it’s Schindler’s List in a 17th century mystical survival era. The black and white scheme is chosen on default, and it is possible to bump up the saturation up to the point where it looks completely the opposite; where colour bursts through and looks both powerful and impressive. The forest looks equally beautiful and menacing, and the foliage and scenery really create a sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately, bumping up the colour scheme kind of kills the nature that Betrayer tries to go for, and leaving it completely in black and white can be a bit wearing to look at, as some textures and environments look quite bland and unspectacular. Adding the colour looks better, but it kills the mysterious vibe and doesn’t feel as tense.
The music (or lack of) and audio absolutely kills it here. The ominous sounds the ‘other’ world makes, the eerily quiet forests, the gusts of wind that mask your steps, it all comes together to produce a wonderfully tense and atmospheric experience. It really helps the ‘horror’ experience Betrayer tries to sell, and the feeling that you’re being stalked is only intensified when you hear a breeze go by that feels so authentic that you can almost feel it.