Belief & Betrayal



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Artematica

Publisher:    Lighthouse Interactive

Released:  June 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista, 1 Ghz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor, 256 MB RAM, 4X CDROM drive, 1 GB free hard disk space, 64 MB DirectX-compatible graphic card, Direct X 9.0c, Direct Sound Compatible Soundcard

Walkthrough   Walkthrough

Additional Screenshots





by Becky


Belief & Betrayal opens with New York City journalist Jonathan Danter on the phone making impudent remarks to his editor. “Jo” Danter is about to meet with the powerful Cardinal Gregorio. The obvious question the gamer wants to ask is: why would any editor assign this delicate interview to Jo, whose quirks are bound to sabotage it? That’s just the first in a series of curiosities that will send the gamer across the Atlantic to various locations – among them: London, Venice, and Rome.

Jo is soon sidetracked by the death of his Uncle Frank. Frank Danter, a cloak-and-dagger figure, was part of a sect investigating ancient mysteries – in this case, dangerous secrets involving the Catholic Church.

Belief & Betrayal has three particular strengths. First, the locations are eye-poppingly detailed and include portions of some of the most beautiful sites in Europe. Second, the music is unusual and adds atmospheric texture throughout. Third, the gamer is able to play as three individuals in this third person, point-and-click adventure. Taking on the roles of Jo, Kat (a wealthy amateur historian), and Damien (a computer tech expert), adds intrigue and variety.

Tempting Fate with a Smile

Whether you like this game will depend greatly on whether you like Jo Danter. Jo deals with horrible and unexpected events by joking about them. I thought that Jo’s wisecracks provided an engaging contrast to the other characters in the game – the ones who take themselves and events with well-founded seriousness. An example – at one point a character says: “My experience tells me that this manhole could lead to an ancient secret crypt or something like that.” If Jo Danter had said this, you would assume it to be a typically preposterous remark. Since, in fact, it is the more sincere Kat who is the speaker, the gamer should probably expect the manhole to end in a secret crypt. (Sidenote: if strict adherence to realism is one of your chief demands in this sort of game, be advised that Belief & Betrayal delves enthusiastically into the realms of legend and historical reinterpretation.)

The game barrels along at a faster pace than most adventure games. Several factors contribute to this effect: the multiple locations, the style of the story, the frequent switching between characters, and the cut scenes that advance the plot. The story starts out with common conspiratorial themes, but takes some unexpected turns. And the ending is not only quite surprising, but also purposely controversial.

Events in Belief & Betrayal are sometimes disjointed. A couple of times I ended up at a new location and wasn’t sure why – though going back to listen again to a conversation or remembering to read Jo or Kat’s diaries provided an indication. Also, some characters appear so briefly that a subsequent mention of their names becomes confusing. This is a game in which a journal containing all previous dialogs would have helped tremendously. So much plot exposition and character development takes place during the dialogs that, if you aren’t listening and/or reading the subtitles with great care, you will miss vital information.

Gawking Gamers

The environments in this game are well worth the visit. They feature complex compositions in a muted palette and use unusual angles to give a sense of scale. They range from a chic Manhattan loft, to London at night with lighted windows in the mist, to the intertwined figures in the frescos at the Vatican Museum. Many locations have animations, such as cars zooming or pedestrians strolling. Character movements for the most part are convincingly natural, though the main characters do occasionally look as though they have been pasted into these enticing environments.

The music is orchestral and choral, and unusually magnificent – more like the soundtrack for a movie. It suits the “grand conspiracy” theme of the game, and heightens the mood in each location.

He Said, She Said

I found the voiceovers professional and suitable. I enjoyed Kat’s clipped British accent and Jo’s frequent quips, delivered with lackadaisical wryness. The children really sound like children. The drunken Frenchman is profoundly Gallic. Conversations with the hooded monk were memorable and affecting.

Lip sync is pretty much nonexistent, though this isn’t distracting since you seldom see a close-up of the speaker’s face. You can click through the dialogs. Unfortunately, you must listen all the way through the repetitive “you can’t use this on that” statements when trying out inventory items. Though a phrase or two here and there sounds stilted, the translation is significantly better than the translation for this developer’s previous adventure (Crime Stories: From the Files of Martin Mysteré).

Belief & Betrayal is not a game for children. For instance, the gamer will encounter a particularly bloody corpse, a prophylactic device that is used as an inventory item, and occasional vulgarities.

Puzzles, Plus Problems

Puzzles are mostly inventory based and include using ideas/information which can also be combined with inventory items. The inventory screen pops up slowly – so slowly that it took me awhile to realize that it still was available in close-up views. While using the ideas/information feature, I found it extremely difficult to bring up the inventory. I had to move the cursor (which becomes the “ideas” text) completely off the screen, and then sit and wait for the inventory to become visible.

An electronic communicator must be mastered, along with a handful of easy mechanical puzzles. The inventory puzzles are logical and I enjoyed them – particularly the sequence with the magnetic keys. An added level of difficulty came from the odd directional arrows in the game environments -- I often couldn’t tell when the directional arrows were pointing to the same location or to a different one.

Usually a single click on items provides a close-up view, though occasionally you must double-click. You must repeatedly click on items and complete all dialogs until a response is repeated. Otherwise you’ll miss important clues. This includes clicking again on items that Jo says won’t be helpful. Don’t trust him! Double-clicking sometimes induces Jo to run to the location you want; other times he insists on walking while you madly double-click.

A final frustration -- hotspots that don’t function with inventory items until a triggering event has occurred. Late in Belief & Betrayal, I was exasperated by how often I had to go back and use inventory items in places where they hadn’t worked before.

As for glitches -- a few times, while using the spacebar to check that I had found all the hotspots on the screen, the screen froze and I had to return to the desktop and reload a saved game. Thankfully, saves are unlimited – a wonderful gift to the gamer.

Quick List for Belief & Betrayal

A quick-paced thriller/adventure with the opportunity to play as three different characters. Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. Mostly inventory puzzles, plus combinations using an “ideas” list. No timed puzzles, no mazes, no sliders, no sound matching puzzles, no color based puzzles. Working with the inventory is frustratingly slow, and moving the characters around can be confusing and inconsistent.

Elegant environments, including some famous sites in England, Italy and France. A sometimes hard-to-follow, complex plot that (along with a few religious and legend-based clichés) features plot twists and a surprise ending. An aura of mystery and conspiracy, combined with an absurdist sense of humor.

Brief, but dramatic cut scenes, good voiceovers, splendid background music. You can’t die. A spacebar glitch that stops progress and requires reloading from a previous save.

Two somewhat difficult puzzles: the clock puzzle, putting together clues gathered at different points in the game, and the “Fire in the Borgo” puzzle, involving details and implications.

No problems with installation. The manual is a must read. Unlimited save slots.

Belief & Betrayal is aimed at gamers who like investigating historical mysteries, uncovering conspiracies, and digging beneath the surface of some of Europe’s most glamorous cityscapes.

Final Grade: B

July 2008

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