Belief & Betrayal Review
|Release Date:||June 20th, 2008 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Since the release of Dan Brown's 'The da Vinci Code,' airport bookstores and charity shops have been swamped by cheap clones of his bestselling novel. Some are pretty good, some are terrible, but they all have one recurring theme- the dark history of Christianity and a terrible secret exposed etc etc.
This theme runs through Belief and Betrayal as well, but unlike Dan Brown's excellent writing, and the intrepid attempts of so many two-bit authors, this 'dark history of Christianity and a terrible secret exposed etc etc' game falls flat on its face.
The story revolves around the adventures of a journalist who goes by the name of Jonathan Danter, a daring wordsmith for the fictional newspaper 'The Manhattan Mirror.'
As he's getting ready for his next assignment- interviewing a Cardinal in Miami, he gets a call from an inspector at New Scotland Yard. The inspector, who carries the unlikely name of Twinning's (yes like the tea franchise, I kid you not) informs Danter that his uncle, who has been dead for nine years, was actually alive… but has just been killed.
Danter, who seemingly has no emotions at all, agrees to fly to England, starting off an adventure that will unravel the history of the world and cause hours upon hours of endless pixel searching, annoyingly ridiculous item combinations and most likely lead to an intense dislike of poor Jonny Danter.
So, without further ado, let's get into the list of what makes this particular game so very bad.
First up: the characters.
As well as Jonathan, the game features several other playable characters that also have a role in uncovering the conspiracy. While their parts are only small, they often play a very important part in the long process of driving the gamer insane. Specifically, the characters are so awful because not only do they not really serve a purpose, they all suffer from the game's terrible voice acting.
English accents are heavily forced upon the other playable characters: Kat, an ass-kicking spy chick, and Damien, a nerd/investigator, and the supporting cast aren't much better, with a bent CIA officer sounding like a stereotypical pizza stall owner in New York City and Inspector Twinning's sounding like Stephen Fry, on speed.
The worst by far has to be Danter himself, who, despite his hard-bitten journalist persona, sounds like a ten-year-old boy, constantly moaning and whining. He also comes with a built in quip factory and is the source of many terrible one-liners for the entire game.
My personal favourite has to be his one-size-fits-all exclamation: "Cat's Whiskers!". Cat's Whiskers? Who on the planet earth says "Cat's Whiskers" when something shocks them? It's just hilarious.
The plot isn't much better. As well as being a terrible rip off of Dan Brown's work, the plot, which revolves around some religious sect that has the answers to life, the universe and everything, makes little or no sense. The characters unravel the story with the aid of long cutscenes and simple pop-up graphics that take ages to play out, and their voices are so grating that I tended to click my way through the cutscenes and read Danter's diary to figure out what I just skipped.
Plus, if you're not interested in history, the occult, or anything to do with Christianity, you'll be asleep after five minutes, it's that boring.
Next problem: the graphics.
Graphically, this game is dire. In this age of high-powered computers and shiny video cards you can always spot developers who decide that the content of their game will pull them through. Sadly, this one never quite makes it.
The graphics are dull and uninteresting, with nasty textures and dodgy mapping. Sometimes the characters themselves deform as they move about, and during a cutscene Danter's head sometimes stretches off the screen for no reason. The environments you can explore are varied, but often very uninteresting, and sometimes you have to spend ages looking around to find some insignificant item that the developers have hidden away.
The only saving grace graphically is the inclusion of an option to reveal all the items you can interact with on the screen. A press of the spacebar will bring up a series of little circles that show what you can use/steal/combine with a yogurt to make wine, making the game a little easier to stomach.
The gameplay is pretty much the standard adventure-game. As one of the three characters you wander from screen to screen picking up things, combing items together to make other items and generally exploring. The interface features a notebook that holds important clues such as codes and info and is actually quite useful, and a diary, which lists what you should be doing.
These two additions make the game a lot easier as you can finally dispense with the ream of post-its that you would usually use in an adventure game to keep track of things.
However, for some reason the developers decided that Danter and co would often have to search items twice to find things. Now, while this doesn't sound too bad, at one point I spent 15 minutes searching a house for a digital camera, only to find it was hidden in the sofa that I had searched once already!
In summary, I wouldn't touch this game with a 12-foot crucifix. The honest fact is that the developers shot for a target they couldn't reach and fell far short. The game is a sad waste of a character and plot that would have been much more suited to the pages of a paperback. There's simply too much wrong here for this to be anything more than a bargain bin game from a pound shop.
The most worrying thing however, has to be the title: "Jonathan Danter: Belief and Betrayal." Does that colon mean there's going to be more than one Jonathan Danter game? Let's hope not.
- Interesting plot, badly explored
Not so good stuff
- Jon's voice
- Almost everything else