Imagine if Ron Howard had cast Rob Schneider instead of Tom Hanks as the lead in The Da Vinci Code (and then let him write his own lines) and you’ll understand one of the biggest problems with Belief & Betrayal, a new adventure game from Italian developer Artemica Entertainment.
Although the game delivers a compelling story about Vatican secrets, murder, and conspiracy with clever plot twists and (mostly) solid voice acting, the hero is so perpetually irritating that by the second act, you’ll want to bludgeon him with the nearest crucifix. That character is American journalist Jonathan Danter, a leering smartass with the intellect of a 12 year-old and the voice of a shrill amateur who travels from New York to England, France, and Italy to uncover the truth behind his beloved uncle’s death. It turns out Uncle Frank was an agent for the Vatican Secret Service who fell afoul of some shady ecclesiastical characters ripped straight from a Dan Brown novel. Danter eventually hooks up with a pair of British allies (you get to play as the Brits in a couple of the middle chapters) who assist him in his quest as he investigates dozens of locales, solves various mechanical puzzles, and collects enough inventory items to fill a small steamer chest.
Unfortunately, this implementation of point-and-click game mechanics sometimes requires an inordinate amount of extra mouse clicks, and some clumsily implemented inventory-combining challenges and an overabundance of expository dialogue slow things to a crawl just as the story starts getting good. These design flaws - along with some pedestrian puzzles and those aforementioned protagonist miscues - ultimately turn Belief & Betrayal into a serviceable but largely forgettable European church tour.
Jul 28, 2008