|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artematica||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Lighthouse Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 20, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
It's usually a pleasant surprise to stumble upon new PC games that are actually playable on older machines without installing the latest graphics cards and other expensive upgrades. Lately, a substantial number of PC games feature graphics and gameplay rivaling the PS3 and Xbox 360. Not all PC gamers can afford to keep their rigs tuned up to the top end of the spectrum, yet it seems few big name developers take this into account when churning out new hits. Those who do are challenged with the task of creating a game that handles well on mid-range systems but doesn't look and play as if it's years behind the competition. It's a tough balance to strike, and hard efforts don't always result in success.
It doesn't take much of a PC setup to run Artematica's Belief & Betrayal, but mustering the saint-like level of patience required to put up with the game's painful shortcomings is far more taxing than the meager system requirements. Even hardcore point-and-click adventure fanatics - who kick their morning off with a good old pixel hunt before breakfast and wrap up the evening with an item combo puzzler - may have a hard time mucking their way through this one.
Saturated in religious imagery, ancient cults, and holy artifacts, Belief & Betrayal features an adventure steeped in murder and conspiracy that sends players seeking out answers across historic locations throughout Europe. Following the murder of his uncle, who turns out to be a member of a secret holy order at the Vatican, journalist Jonathan Danter finds himself embroiled in a bizarre plot that ties back to a historic religious artifact forged with the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for his betrayal of Christ. Danter and his uncle's colleagues must hunt for clues he left behind to unravel the mysteries of the relic before it falls into the wrong hands. This sounds all fine and good, but the story comes across as incredibly dull on execution. There are simply too many moments when it feels like you're sitting through a theological history lesson as characters orate on and on about the meaning of ancient religious texts and dogmatic symbolism. The story is decently constructed, but it just isn't all that interesting to begin with. Sadly, this isn't the only culprit that drags the game down.
Danter just doesn't work as a lead character. Aside from the fact you'll likely want to punch him in the face immediately after being introduced to his instantly irritating voice and juvenile cockiness, he's easily the weakest link of the bunch. It's not a good sign when players are inclined to throttle the main character within seconds of booting up the game. Yes, he's that obnoxious, and it doesn't let up at any point in the adventure. Throughout the entire game I secretly hoped he would get blown up, dismembered, or fatally wounded no such luck.
Consequently, it's hard to really get into the game when the person you're playing has few redeeming qualities and is impossible to identify with. Other characters in the game are far more likeable, though all of them suffer from unusual visual defects when it comes to speech. Occasionally, they'll speak without moving their mouths, and other times the speech movements are so alien-looking you'd half expect them to sprout tentacles and glowing eyes. Also, once they do start jabbering, it's hard to get them to shut up.