Betrayal in Antara is a Windows 3.1 computer role-playing game developed and published by Sierra On-Line in 1997, after the success of their previous RPG, Betrayal at Krondor. Sierra had lost the rights to produce another game based on Raymond Feist's Midkemia, and therefore had to create the game world of Ramar. Although not a sequel, Betrayal in Antara uses an updated version of Betrayal at Krondor's game engine.
The player, controlling a small party of characters, is generally allowed to explore the world how they wish, but only certain locations are accessible in each chapter. Compared to Betrayal at Krondor, Betrayal in Antara is more linear and restricted in where the player can travel. Plot is usually advanced through literary cutscenes. Each chapter begins and ends with a cutscene, consisting of text, spoken dialogue, and illustrations.
Most gameplay happens in the first-person 3D view of the game world. Aside from the overworld, there are also dungeons and caves to explore. There is also a 2D overhead map view, where the player is represented by a circular arrow marker. The map view is stationary while the player marker moves around; when the player reaches the edge of one map section, the next is loaded. The player also has the option to automatically mark shops, inns, temples, NPCs, chests, and other objects on the overhead map. During travel, the player may encounter enemies, at which point the game enters a separate combat screen, which is viewed in the third person. The player also may meet various NPCs throughout their travels. Dialogue is text-based with speech, and some NPCs have their own portraits as well. Conversation is tree-based. This is often used to get information, training, and items from NPCs. The game also includes a recall tool so that conversations with certain important NPCs can be played back later in the game.
Just as in Betrayal at Krondor, combat is turn-based and takes place on a hexagonal grid. During their turn a character can has multiple options, including but not limited to moving, attacking, casting a spell, and resting to regain stamina, which is used when a character attacks or is attacked. Once stamina is depleted, health is used and as it decreases, the character's skills (such as weapon accuracy and defense) are negatively affected. Characters have different melee options trading damage for accuracy. A fighter equipped with a bow or a magician with spells can attack from a distance.
Characters can acquire various status effects. Characters whose health drops to zero in combat are knocked out and acquire "Near Death" status, making them heal very slowly and extremely ineffective in combat; if wounds are properly cared for (using herbal packs or senwater), they will heal faster. Improved rate of healing is handled as a status effect, as are poisoning, drunkenness, and fatigue. If the entire party is near death, the game will end.
Each character has a set of skills. Skills are generally improved by using them. For example, fixing weapons will improve the Repair skill, which in turn will make the character more effective at fixing weapons in the future. Skills include defense, archery, mêlée weapon accuracy, spellcasting accuracy, enemy assessment during combat, weapon and armor repair, haggling, lockpicking, scouting for enemy ambushes, and stealth. Skills can be emphasized, causing them to improve faster. There are items which can improve skills both permanently (such as books) or temporarily (such as blood of Kor for melee accuracy or razorcup nectar for archery).
Spells are organized into six groups, grouped by magic symbol. Five groups of spells are combat spells and one group is non-combat spells. Spells first drain the caster's stamina and then health. Some spells have variable strength; the player can choose how much energy the spell consumes. Some combat spells also require that the target being within line of sight of or adjacent to the caster. Magic is learned from books that are sold in shops or found in various locations throughout the world. Aren can select up to five types of magic to research, which automatically occurs when resting. As Aren's skills within the various magical disciplines increases, he gains access to more spells.
Just as Betrayal at Krondor had moredhel wordlock chests, Betrayal in Antara has lever chests and beadlock chests. Lever chests have combination locks with letters and a riddle whose answer will open the chest if spelled out. However, unlike Betrayal at Krondor, in which the riddles were usually unrelated to Midkemia, many of the riddles in Betrayal in Antara require knowledge about the inhabitants, politics, creatures, etc. of Ramar. Beadlock chests have a puzzle in which the player is given a set of colored beads and exchange formulas and must obtain a certain combination of colored beads.
Major Characters and NPCs
- William Escobar
- (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9) William is the third and youngest son of Lord Nathan Escobar, governor of Pianda. He is engaged to Selana Sheffield, as their marriage was arranged to create a political alliance between their houses. He is returning home from a trip to Januli to meet Selana when his ship is attacked by pirates. Abandoning ship, fate places William in the same lifeboat as Gregor when they are attacked by a griffin and saved by Aren.
- Aren Cordelaine
- (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9) Aren is the only son of Tyre Cordelaine, owner of The Spitting Lion Inn in the fishing town of Briala. Aren lived an uneventful life until one day when he comes across William and Gregor being attacked by a griffin. Unaware of his magical abilities, Aren tries to help them, unintentionally killing the creature with a blast of magic. Realizing that he is a danger to himself and those around him unless he learns to control his powers, Aren decides to accompany William home to receive proper magical training.
- Kaelyn Usher
- (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9) Kaelyn is a ranger and the daughter of Garvin Usher, a magician, though she is unaware of her father's profession. Raised in the Ridgewood amongst the Grrrlf, who consider her one of the pack. She is traveling to Balmestri when she is attacked by bandits and saved by William and Aren.
- (Chapters 5, 7) Raal is a Grrrlf, a race of wolf-like creatures who live in the northern regions of Antara and with whom humans have an uneasy peace. Friends with Kaelyn since they were children, he heads south to warn her when wraiths start appearing in the Ridgewood.
- Calvert Bryce
- Calvert Bryce is the Sheffields' court magician. Bryce discovered how to travel into the ethereal world but was humiliated when he was forbidden from conducting research on the subject by the Shadows, the Emperor's court magicians. Desiring revenge, he engineers an elaborate plot to get revenge by capturing a wraith and using it to assassinate the Emperor.
- Lord Daryl Caverton
- Lord Caverton is governor of Ticor and a political rival of both House Escobar and House Sheffield. With the recent discovery of salt mines in Ticor, Lord Caverton has positioned himself to undermine Lord Sheffield and drive him out of business.
- Farril Kalibanque (the Imperial Consort)
- Prince Farril Kalibanque, third son of the Emperor of Chail, is engaged to Princess Aurora Valorian, daughter of Emperor Justin Valorian. He is traveling to Antara for his marriage to Princess Aurora when he is kidnapped in Ticoro by the Shepherds. William and Aren eventually rescue him, but not before he is used by Calvert Bryce to conceal a wraith meant to assassinate the emperor.
- Gregor is a joyman (a traveling minstrel) and a spy for Lord Caverton in Januli. Gregor discovered Selana Sheffield's plot to kidnap the Imperial Consort and was traveling to Ticoro to warn him when his ship was attacked by pirates. Abandoning ship, he ends up in the same lifeboat as William Escobar. The two are attacked by a griffin upon reaching shore and Gregor is mortally wounded, warning William that the Consort is in danger before he dies.
- Fellich Marr
- High Brother Fellich Marr is head of the Church of Henne and is trusted by both the royal family and the Sheffields, as Aurora Valorian and Selana Sheffield both fostered at the Tabernacle of Henne in Ticoro. He is also Silver Hawk, the mastermind behind Selana Sheffield and Calvert Bryce's activities.
- Lord Cameron Sheffield
- Lord Sheffield is governor of Januli and Selana Sheffield's father. With the rise in pirate attacks on the high seas and Lord Caverton's entry into the salt trade, Lord Sheffield has found his family in a precarious financial position.
- Selana Sheffield
- Selana Sheffield is Lord Sheffield's daughter and William Escobar's fiancée, though the two don't care much for each other or their politically-motivated marriage. Selana believes that her father sees her as a silly girl only good to be married off and resents him for it. She is secretly a member of the Shepherds, though she doesn't believe in their cause and only sees them as a means by which she can solve House Sheffield's financial troubles, using them kidnap the Imperial Consort and holding him for ransom.
- Garvin Usher
- Kaelyn's father Garvin is a magician, though Kaelyn is unaware of this fact. His wife was killed when one of his magical experiments gone awry and, ashamed of telling his daughter, he gave up magic and told Kaelyn her mother had drowned. When wraiths appear in the Ridgewood, Garvin is forced to take up magic again in order to find a way to defeat them and reveals the truth to his daughter, helping her to defeat them.
A ship, the Fair Current, is sailing from Januli to Pianda when it is attacked by pirates. With the ship on fire, the crew and its two passengers abandon ship. William Escobar finds himself in the same lifeboat as the other passenger, a joyman named Gregor. The two of them make it to shore but are attacked by a magical griffin and Gregor is mortally wounded.
The game begins near Briala. While fishing, Aren Cordelaine sees William fighting off the griffin and, trying to help, unintentionally kills the creature with a blast of magic. Before he dies, Gregor gives William a medallion and warns him that the Imperial Consort is in danger. William asks Aren to accompany him home so Aren can learn how to control his powers from the Escobars' court mage Finch. Aren agrees and the two of them set out for Panizo. In the forest near town, the save a woman, Kaelyn Usher, who is being attacked by bandits and she decides to join them. Journeying west, they eventually reach Panizo, where William informs his father of Aren's help as well as Gregor's message. Learning that Prince Farril will be traveling to Antara for his wedding to Princess Aurora, William wants to go to Ticoro and warn him. Nathan Escobar allows Aren to be trained by Finch, but does not explicitly permit William to go to Ticoro.
William, Aren, and Kaelyn sneak out of Panizo early the next morning and head north to Midova, where Aren starts his magical training with Finch. They then head west and arrive in Ticoro in the middle of the spring festival and learn that Prince Farril is in the city, though his location is being kept a secret.
In Ticoro, William, Aren, and Kaelyn meet Kaelyn's friend Raal, Fellich Marr, head of the church of Henne. They discover where Prince Farril is staying and attempt to warn him but both Lord Caverton and the prince's guards ignore them. William, Aren, and Kaelyn return to their inn frustrated, but are awoken in the middle of the night by Caverton's guards, who inform them that Farril has been kidnapped. Having known about it beforehand, William, Aren, and Kaelyn are arrested as the primary suspects.
Raal springs William, Aren, and Kaelyn from prison and the four of them escape from Ticoro. Raal informs Kaelyn that wraiths have appeared and are attacking people in the Ridgewood and her father Garvin has disappeared. Kaelyn leaves with Raal and heads north to find her father, promising to meet up with William and Aren when she is done. William and Aren suspect that the Shepherds were responsible for kidnapping Prince Farril and follow the trail of the Shepherds through Ticor and Chuno, eventually learning about their secret headquarters. Tracking down another Shepherd medallion, they use it to enter the Shepherds' headquarters north of Ticoro.
Kaelyn and Raal head north to Kaelyn's home in the Ridgewood. Following a note from her father, the two of them discover Garvin's magical workshop in a cave. Garvin informs his daughter that wraiths have mysteriously appeared within the forest, possessing humans and creatures and driving them mad. With Garvin's help, Kaelyn and Raal find and destroy all the wraiths in the forest.
William and Aren eventually find Gar Warren, leader of the Shepherds. Warren informs them that Farril has disappeared, taken by a traitorous Shepherd magician. Before William and Aren can learn any more, Imperial soldiers storm the caverns and Warren escapes. William and Aren follow, but lose him in the tunnels. Without Warren to prove that they weren't behind the kidnapping, William and Aren have no choice but to rescue Farril themselves. Following the only clue they have, the name Kahleth, they discover that Farril has been taken by a band of Chunese mercenaries. Posing as new recruits, they are taken to the cabin where he is held. William and Aren find him in a magical sleep and, after Aren dispels the enchantment, the three of them escape.
William, Aren, and Farril head south to Antara with the mercenaries in pursuit, leading a trail of destruction in their wake. Bidding farewell to her father, Kaelyn and Raal head south to meet up with them, eventually finding them trapped near Ciaga Pass. After helping them escape through the pass, Raal returns home while William, Aren, Kaelyn, and Farril continue on to Antara. The Imperial guards are suspicious but, finding no holes in their story, let them go.
Antara gathers for the presentation of Prince Farril to the Emperor. During the ceremony, a wraith appears out of Farril's body and attacks the Emperor. The Shadows, the Emperor's magicians, fight it off but the creature takes the souls of Farril and Princess Aurora and escapes from the palace. Prince Farril and Princess Aurora are placed in stasis and the Emperor asks William, Aren, and Kaelyn to save Farril and Aurora. Realizing that the attack on the Fair Current was meant for Gregor, they head to Januli to unravel the mystery behind Gregor's death and the assassination attempt on the Emperor.
Tracking down the Fair Current's crew members as well as Gregor's mistress, William, Aren, and Kaelyn learn that Gregor spent much of his time in Havesly, the capital of Januli. They head to Havesly, where they discover that Gregor was a spy for Lord Caverton, whose entry into the salt trade was driving House Sheffield to the brink of bankruptcy. Desperate to save her family from financial ruin, Selana Sheffield employed pirates, allowing them harbor in Januli by forging her father's signature. Selana planned to kidnap Prince Farril and hold him for ransom, joining the Shepherds to carry it out. Gregor discovered her plans so she arranged to have him killed. William, Aren, and Kaelyn arrive at the Sheffields' castle to find it under attack by pirates.
William, Aren, and Kaelyn enter the castle, eventually finding Lord Sheffield and Selana, pursued by an assassin who is dispatched by Lord Sheffield. They learn that the pirates were sent by someone named Silver Hawk to cover their tracks by killing Selana and court mage Calvert Bryce. Questioning Selana, William learns that while she was responsible for the pirate attack, she knows nothing about the griffin. Several months earlier, a griffin had been sighted in Januli and Bryce had reportedly disposed of it. Realizing that Bryce was responsible for sending the griffin to attack Gregor and the wraith to kill the Emperor, William, Aren, and Kaelyn enter the salt mines behind the castle and follow them to Bryce's workshop.
Bryce tells them that he tried to kill the Emperor out of revenge because the Shadows had humiliated him when they forbade his ethereal travel research. He continued anyway, but by traveling to the ethereal world to capture a wraith, Bryce allowed a few to escape into Ramar, where they appeared in the Ridgewood. Selana's plan to kidnap the Consort happened to provide a vessel for the wraith to strike at the Emperor. Before they can learn how to get Farril and Aurora's souls back, Bryce commits suicide. Using Bryce's notes, Aren is able to summon the wraith. The wraith refuses to return the souls so Lord Sheffield and Selana, feeling responsible for the turmoil that has occurred, volunteer to give up their souls instead. The wraith takes their souls, killing them, and returns Farril and Aurora's souls in exchange for the promise that humans will never disturb the wraiths again.
Two months later, William, Aren, and Kaelyn reunite in Ticoro for Farril and Aurora's wedding. William has been busy working for his father, Aren has become Finch's apprentice, and Kaelyn has been appointed ambassador to the Grrrlf in Antara. During the ceremony, William and Aren notice the silver hawk on Fellich Marr's staff. William realizes that Marr was Silver Hawk, but that they are powerless to do anything and he has gotten away with it.
Betrayal in Antara was poorly received by fans of Betrayal at Krondor for a variety of reasons. Without Feist's existing universe, Betrayal in Antara suffered from a weak and complicated plot due to the lack of background information about the world of Ramar. Many of the quests in the game were also considered trivial and silly. For example, one main quest involves significant traveling to find tea for a mage who refuses to train Aren without it. The game was not written for Windows 95 but for Windows 3.1, an operating system with little support for games. As a result, it suffered from both substandard graphics for its time and poor performance. The 3-D world had very few polygons: "forests" in the game were not recognizable as such, as they consisted of flat walls with a forest-camouflage texture. Many of the scenes (and all of the dialogue) consist of static comic-book-like drawings of characters. The game only supported 8-bit color so under 16-bit color or 32-bit color resolutions, darkness (such as nighttime or a cavern) would appear bright purple. As the world map was loaded in sections, occasionally a section would not load properly, requiring the player to backtrack and re-enter in order to move to the next area of the map. The game was also much more limited, including restrictions on travel (many parts of Ramar are only accessible in one chapter) and player development (each chapter had a limit on maximum character stats). The computer AI was also lacking, as enemies had a tendency to run away in battle for no reason, despite having full health and being uninjured.
GameSpot gave Betrayal in Antara a score of 6.6/10, commenting that despite being "one of the first RPGs to utilize high-resolution SVGA graphics, the graphics are, frankly, as ugly as an orc." Although the story was well-developed, it was "perhaps one of the most linear RPGs ever made" with the gameplay "more than a little frustrating." However, they praised the interface and skill systems as being "topnotch."
As Betrayal in Antara uses an updated version of Betrayal at Krondor's game engine with some modifications, gameplay is largely the same. The game runs in 256-color 640x480 Super VGA mode within Windows 3.1. The graphics engine uses textured 3D graphics to draw the terrain and uses sprites for most detailed objects. Shops, inns, temples, special locations, and large cities are done as pictures usable through hotspots. Smaller towns have 3D buildings. Character, NPC, and monster art is based on hand-drawn images. In combat and puzzle screens, all characters are animated. The game models illumination to a certain extent: in the overworld, day and night are modeled, and in underground locations, the player needs to use a torch or light spell to illuminate the surroundings.
- ↑ GameSpot's review of Betrayal in Antara: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/betrayalinantara/review.html