I Love It When A Game Gets Brave With History

Illustration for article titled I Love It When A Game Gets Brave With History

I can't believe no other game had already taken the name Betrayer. I'm also glad that Betrayer isn't set in space, a fantasy kingdom or a rotting near-future metropolis.

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It's instead set in the earliest days of the English colonization of North America, a period very few games - aside from the obvious - have ever dabbled in.

As someone who loves history and plays too many video games, I love this. It's so easy to set a game based on a historical era in the obvious, like a great war or medieval Europe, but something remote and far-flung like this is always more interesting simply by virtue of it not treading familiar ground.

Not everything is historical - this is a supernatural mystery, after all - but between the location and weaponry, it's historical enough.

The game itself is a bit different, too; made by a very small team, it combines open-world exploration with some basic questing and, most interesting, stealth combat, which requires you to make use the wind to mask your footsteps.

Here's the official brief from the developers, Blackpowder:

The year is 1604. You sailed from England expecting to join a struggling colony on the coast of Virginia. Instead, you find only ghosts and mysteries. What catastrophe blighted the land and drained it of color and life? Where are the settlers and tribes who lived here? And who is the strange, silent woman in red who aids you from afar?

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It all feels a little rough around the edges, especially the combat, but the pull of the mystery and some neat tricks (like the ability to "listen" for increased awareness of your surroundings and to customise the game's appearance with stuff like colour sliders) was enough to keep me playing for most of the morning as I checked it out.

Betrayer is out today. It's $18 on Steam.

DISCUSSION

nventure
nate venture

So then it's Roanoke the video game? Coastal Virginia, 1604, mysteriously missing settlers. It's Roanoke. I'd even wager 5 hypothetical dollars that "Croatoan" is used somewhere in this, if it does have a story beyond "the colony is missing and now there are ghosts and demons and stuff".

If it actually has a unique (read: not cliche and pointlessly obvious for the subject matter) story it could be worthwhile from what I saw in the video. But if it doesn't go anywhere interesting…eh.