Monolith Games made some amazing first person shooters, including the horror/shooter hybrid F.E.A.R. And the spy parody No One Lives Forever. A splinter group of designers has broken away from Lith to form their own studio, and their first game is a first person shooter with a bit of a twist; it’s set in the 17th century and players will be shooting period weapons like bows and muskets. It’s called Betrayer and the alpha build is available to the public now.
The first thing that will strike players is the use of color. It’s a black and white game that uses the occasional burst of color to highlight important items like enemies, mission objectives and ally NPCs. Players run through the monotone world until something important appears, and these items or people are bright red to make them more easily seen against the backgrounds.
While the visual design makes Betrayer stand out from the crowd of games aiming for photorealism, it also deviates from typical FPS mechanics by tossing the Player into a non-linear story. Players wash up on a beach near a colonial village. The time period is established by the Age of Sail ship that can be seen off the coast, and the fact that ammunition for a musket can be scavenged from supply crates along the beach. They explore a New World forest, discovering abandoned colonial forts as they go.
Just what happened to the inhabitants of this colony isn’t revealed in this alpha stage, but it involves the supernatural. Players can speak to the spirits of dead colonists, and have to search for clues to their deaths. The spirits can be untrustworthy as well, so players need to do their detective work and present evidence about these mysteries.
The areas can be explored however the Player wants; it’s a fully free-roaming environment. Paths through the forrest exist but players will need to abandon them in order to find clues out in the wilderness. The NPC’s provide very little exposition, and there aren’t helpful compass points screaming “Go here next, dumbass!”
Spanish soldiers are afoot in the woods, as is a mysterious female archer. The archer warns players that something sinister has happened to the Spaniards and turned them feral. Now, players must sneak and fight their way past these beastmen to investigate the abandoned colony. The weapons at the Player’s disposal are slow-firing and there is limited ammo for the better ones. Arrows have to be drawn fully to reach their target, and the muzzle-loading firearms take forever to reload between shots. It requires multiple shots to bring down an enemy, so players need to take enemies unaware, and avoid large groups.
Although there is combat and shooting, Betrayer feels somewhat like an adventure game. It has a strong focus on solving mysteries and hunting down items, with the combat being something that happens along the way. Gamers that enjoy both genres will want to keep an eye on this title as it develops.
It’s still in an alpha stage with about two hours of content, but the designers have already released a big update. Players who want to have look can buy the alpha version on Steam now and play along as it develops in the months ahead. Check back with Explosion for more as it approaches release.