The player, controlling a small party of characters, is generally allowed to explore the world as 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 like 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 NPCsEdit
- William Escobar (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9)
- Aren Cordelaine (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9)
- Kaelyn Usher (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9)
- Raal (Chapters 5, 7)
- Calvert Bryce
- Lord Daryl Caverton
- Farril Kalibanque (the Imperial Consort)
- Fellich Marr
- Lord Cameron Sheffield
- Selana Sheffield
- Garvin Usher
In the prologue, 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. While fishing, Aren Cordelaine sees William fighting off the griffin and, trying to help, unintentionally kills the creature with a blast of magic. Before dying, Gregor gives William a medallion and whispers a cryptic warning about "the Consort." William insists that Aren accompany him home to learn how to control his newfound powers from the Escobars' court mage Finch. Aren agrees and the two of them set out for Panizo.
The game begins near Aren's home town, Briala. In the forest near town, they save an archer, Kaelyn Usher, who is being attacked by bandits while transporting pelts to Aspreza. To even the score, she decides to join them and see them safely on their way.
Journeying west, the three eventually reach Panizo, where William informs his father, Lord Nathan Escobar, of Aren's help as well as Gregor's message. Learning that the Consort will be traveling to Antara (city) for his wedding to the Emperor's Daughter-heir, Aurora Valorian, William asks leave to go to Ticoro and warn him. Nathan tells him to take Aren to Midova to be trained by Finch, but does not explicitly prohibit them from going to Ticoro afterwards.
William, Aren, and Kaelyn sneak out of Panizo early the next morning and travel to Midova. Though Finch takes the time to teach Aren some magical control, he refuses to take him on as an apprentice just yet. Balked, but determined to warn the Consort of Gregor's message, the party heads west and arrives in Ticoro in the middle of the Spring Festival.
In Ticoro, William, Aren, and Kaelyn meet Kaelyn's friend Raal, William's potential father-in-law and fiancée who are in town for the Festival, and High Brother Fellich Marr, head of the church of Henne. They discover where the Consort is staying and attempt to warn him, but both the Ticoran governor and the prince's guards ignore them, though they do learn that Gregor's medallion refers to a group called the Shepherds. William, Aren, and Kaelyn return to their inn in frustration, but are routed from their beds in the middle of the night by the governor's guards, who inform them that the Consort has been kidnapped and arrest them as the primary suspects.
After a fruitless interview with the gloating Ticoran governor, the party is shipped west to be questioned by the Emperor's Shadows. However, Raal springs them from captivity along the road. Raal informs Kaelyn that Wraiths have appeared and are attacking people in the Ridgewood and that her father Garvin has disappeared. Kaelyn leaves with Raal and heads north to find her father, promising to rejoin the party after seeing him. William and Aren continue the chapter alone.
Suspecting that the Shepherds were responsible for the kidnapping, and follow the cult's trail through Ticor and Chuno, eventually learning the location of their secret headquarters. Tracking down another Shepherd medallion, they use it to enter the Shepherds' headquarters north of Ticoro.
Kaelyn, musing on her childhood friendship with Raal, accompanies him north to her father's home in the Ridgewood. Following a note from her father, the two of them discover Garvin's magical workshop in a cave. Finally revealing to his daughter that he was once a mage -- along with the truth about her mother's untimely death -- Garvin explains that he has been working to find an enchantment to kill the Wraiths that have been stealing souls and driving their victims mad. With Garvin's help, Kaelyn and Raal find and destroy all the wraiths in the forest, and Kaelyn begins to come to terms with the new information about her past.
In the Shepherds' headquarters, William and Aren shake down the cult's leader and learn that the kidnapped Consort has disappeared, taken from the Shepherds by a traitorous mage who attacks the party as well but is killed before anything else can be revealed. When the leader escapes in the tunnels, leaving William and Aren with no proof that they weren't in on the kidnapping, William decides they have no choice but to rescue the Consort themselves. Following the only clue they have, the name Kahleth, they discover that Farril has been taken by a band of Ghanish mercenaries. Posing as new recruits, they are taken to the cabin where he is being held in a magical sleep. After Aren dispels the enchantment, the three flee west toward Antara.
Bidding farewell to Kaelyn's father, Kaelyn and Raal search for William and Aren, following the trail of destruction they've left through Chuno with Khaleth's mercenaries in pursuit. Finding the three trapped near Ciaga Pass, they create a distraction to let them flee for Antara, following behind them.
When they reach Antara, Raal bids Kaelyn farewell and she rejoins her other companions. Though relieved to have the Consort back unharmed, the Imperial Guards take them in for questioning.
After the party is cleared, all of Antara gathers for the presentation of the Consort to the Imperial Court. During the ceremony, a Wraith bursts from the Consort's body and tries to attack the Emperor. The Imperial Shadows fight it off but the creature takes the souls of the Consort and Daughter-Heir and escapes from the palace. The Shadows place the two victims in stasis and the Emperor asks William, Aren, and Kaelyn to find the Wraith and save them. Realizing that Gregor's death was the first piece of the mystery, they head to Januli to find his killer.
Scouring Januli for the details of Gregor's life, the party is led to Havesly, home of William's fiancée. More than a simple joyman, Gregor had been spying on Lord Sheffield in furtherance of Lord Caverton's attempt to bankrupt the Sheffields. Nonetheless, as a loyal Imperial subject, he had embarked to warn the Consort upon discovering the kidnapping plot. Heading for the Sheffields' estate to learn more, the party finds it under attack by pirates.
Entering the estate, dispatching pirates on the way, the party eventually learns why the Consort had been kidnapped and that the pirates had been sent to keep Gregor from warning him of impending danger. However, the Shepherds had known nothing about the griffin and Wraith, both magical creatures, and had never intended to endanger the Emperor. Searching for the mage behind the assassination attempt, William, Aren, and Kaelyn enter the salt mines behind the castle and follow them into the Waste.
Deep in the Waste, the party finds the mage's workshop and fight off his attacks. Dying, he reveals that he had intended the Emperor's assassination to embarrass the Shadows for forbidding his research into Ethereal travel. He continued anyway, accidentally releasing Wraiths into the Ridgewood, and a convenient ally had provided the kidnapped Consort to be unknowingly used as a vessel for his revenge against the Shadows. Aren, using the mage's notes, is able to summon the Wraith and bargain for the souls of the Consort and Daughter-Heir. Though the Wraith refuses at first, demanding an equal exchange, the rescue is finally achieved.
In the Epilogue two months later, William, Aren, and Kaelyn reunite in Ticoro for the Imperial wedding. William has been given more responsibility in his family, Aren has become Finch's apprentice, and Kaelyn is now a confidant of the Daughter-Heir and has been appointed ambassador to the Grrrlf. But during the ceremony, Aren notices a clue to the identity of the conspirator who had set both plots into motion -- a conspirator who, for lack of remaining evidence, has little to fear from anyone attempting to connect him to the attempted assassination. The party can do nothing now, but resolve to make sure the villain can do no more harm.
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 poor, as enemies had a tendency to run away in battle, even while 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."
Since 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.