Six former developers from Monolith, the studio behind F.E.A.R. and No One Lives Forever, have just announced Betrayer, a first-person single-player action-adventure game set in Colonial Virginia that features exploration, weaponry authentic to the times and a metaphysical mystery with a historical foundation.
Upon arriving in the Colonies via sailboat from England, you discover ghosts and ghouls in a New World stripped of color, save for the occasional splash of red. From there, it’s up to you to figure out what happened by piecing together clues. Betrayer contains limited hand-holding. It’s not meant to be easy and the story is found – rather than told in a heavy-handed expository way.
“It’s been so long since someone’s done something this austere, that it just seemed like an opportunity. We originally had an objective system that would tell you more of what to do, but we were finding that by doing that, people didn’t care about the mystery, it just felt more mechanical. So pulling some of that out, more player investment came out of that.”
I find this to be particularly alluring in contrast to something like Skyrim. The decision to let the exploration and mystery breathe directly addresses my main complaint with Bethesda’s latest fantasy epic. In that, I felt that a gorgeous, meticulously designed world was nearly buried beneath heaping piles of explicitly stated lore and an ever-lasting laundry list of quests.
On top of that, any money accrued is permanently lost if you fail to retrieve it from your corpse after dying – a design choice reminiscent of a personal favorite of mine, Dark Souls. Like Dark Souls, the mere possibility of permanent loss raises the stakes and is a surefire way to complement the tension created through narrative and haunting atmospherics.
If you couldn’t tell – I’m excited. Betrayer appears to be another in a long line of first-person shooters – like Bioshock, Portal, and Far Cry 2 – that look to innovate rather than rely on “satisfying” gunplay. It sounds just like my cup of tea. How about you?
Look for it August 14th for PC on Steam Early Access.