Byzantine: The Betrayal
Merely an average point and click adventure with bad acting to boot.
If you’re really good, you can pull off an adventure game that simultaneously manages to entertain and educate in equal measure. Though you’d have to leave out many of the oddball contraptions and wizardry that define Myst clones, grounding Discovery’s Byzantine: The Betrayal in real-life Turkey gives way to a multitude of cobbled-together playing styles that’s different enough to keep it noticed in a crowded genre. The story starts innocently enough – an old friend’s urgent letter plunges you into a plot filled with conspiracy, murder, and political turmoil.
Almost everything seen in the game is either filmed or photographed. Great on-location filming captures the architecture of modern and past Turkey, and shows where the designers’ talents truly lie. At each of the many locations in the game, players can pan the view to absorb the majesty of their surroundings. A handy overview map makes traveling between areas quick and painless. Unfortunately, the image quality of the panorama shots aren’t quite as sharp as we’d have liked, and actually panning the camera around is somewhat of a hassle.
Acting in the game varies from average to very poor. In contrast to the gorgeous backdrops, most of the acting squad appears camera shy to the point of being unintentionally laughable (several even kept looking at some off-screen director for their cue). The lack of subtitles means you’ll often be left staring at the screen trying to decipher broken English. The gameplay isn’t that riveting either with its assorted mix of easy puzzles. Many of the solutions are either found in obvious hotspots or spelled out in one of the many conversations. While most of the game plays at a leisurely pace, some sequences require quick reflexes. Search an apartment too long, or pry into the wrong part of an underground labyrinth, and the only “plot” you’ll uncover is the one they bury you in.
Following the unwritten rules of adventure games to the letter, Byzantine: The Betrayal is only different by virtue of its real-life exotic setting. You’ll probably walk away knowing a thing or two more about Byzantium by the time you’ve played through it, but whether you’re entertained or not is another matter.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95