For every action there is a consequence. Our lives grant us the golden opportunity to choose actions we find fitting to ensure our survival and pursue our own happiness. A moral compass more often than not guides us to choices that benefit those we care about instead of betraying them, but what kind of poor decision could elicit the wrath of a god? What could’ve gone so wrong as to be punished through a cycle of violent deaths and reincarnation? Even when trapped between a rock and a wall of spikes it would seem The only direction to go is forward.
Rise of the Betrayer is a souls-like metroid-vania pixel art adventure emarks players into a journey where perils are great and death is certain, yet nothing to fear for the likes of the Betrayer. The Sword wielding hero has thrown into chaos the balance between the realm of mortals and gods and has found himself cursed with a strange power of rebirth. Now he seeks to grow in ethereal power to thwart the angered gods responsible for his torment.
While similar to other Metroidvanias, there is more to consider than just running, dodging, and timing jumps. The primary objective is to gather ethereal orbs for strength. Paths to progress are defended enemies and stage obstacles that at first glance seem strange before exploring specific areas and unlocking new abilities. The bestiary features an assortment of fantasy monsters as charming to look at as they are ferocious in battle. There is a relaxing joy to smashing up the environment for items and gold, but enemy encounters are not to be taken lightly. No matter how small a creature, each monster requires a particular strategy and attack pattern to master. There’s plenty of variety offered for those skilled enough to survive.
While there is a crafting system, the challenge to execute timed attacks greatly surpasses that of a farming simulator. There are a variety of items to craft from material found by destroying objects on the 2-D realm, but the trick is knowing which one is most useful against the enemy in front of you. While farming health potions might grant an early game advantage, the large variety of options in items to craft and magical abilities to learn is daunting but is also reminiscent to the Nintendo hard titles of its inspiration like Blaster Master. The practice, patience, and well timed execution required to master would certainly make for some entertaining speed runs.
Where the rise of the betrayer parts ways from its predecessors is In the control scheme. It would seem controller input still needs calibrating within the game’s settings because when plugging in a controller, the right stick defaults to mouse movement instead of a simple aim function. Since Dual stick analog controllers are not fluidy supported yet gameplay leans toward mouse and keyboard style aim which might be more accustomed to isometric action like diablo or hotline miami rather than a 2-d platformer. While swinging the sword for melee combat left or right is pretty straightforward, aiming with a bow is not something you’d expect to use a mouse for in a 2d side scrolling game.
Ethereal orbs empower your struggle and offer exciting skills and abilities. The first skill unlocked, the ability to slide and jump off of walls, quickly adds freedom to the vertical dungeon layout. Just as with items, the real key is knowing how to apply each skill to overcome the enemy presence which will inhibit progress and become overwhelming when not prepared.
All together, Rise of the betrayer draws from a wide range of inspiration to create a new and unique experience. The vertical dungeon crawling is reminiscent of NES classics like Zelda 2 and offers a similar standard of practice makes perfect difficulty. There’s also added variety in the crafting of items and unique palette of betrayer abilities to unlock. Rise of the Betrayer presets a challenging yet rewarding experience for players who enjoy deep dives into retro action with modern souls-like mechanics.