The Walking Dead is a series that never seems to die. But within the universe, we’ve gotten some truly excellent games, like Saints and Sinners and its follow-up, both for VR. The Walking Dead Betrayal looks to sink its teeth into us and cause some social distrust.
I recently sat down and went hands-on with The Walking Dead Betrayal and played two rounds with some other press folks. I was the Confidant in one game, which was okay if primarily unused in the first round. But the second round is where everyone came alive, and I was able to play the traitor class and really sow some seeds of doubt into my team’s social standings.
The setup for The Walking Dead Betrayal is your basic social deduction game. Everyone is given a job in the group. Among them is the Tailor, who is able to create skin suits from walker corpse piles allowing players to sneak around the walkers unnoticed. The Confidant, who, after five minutes, is given two names, one of which is the traitor, the daredevil who gains health by placing traps, as well as the Traitor whose job it is to mess everyone’s plans up.
“The Walking Dead Betrayal looks to sink its teeth into us and cause some social distrust.”
The tailor and the daredevil’s unique skills are also skills that the traitor has, so it is an interesting balance of trying to persuade your team that you aren’t the traitor if you’re making skin suits or traps. Or if you are on the other side, hiding your skills until a critical moment presents itself, and you can make sure the team fails.
But there is a twist; the map is filled with zombies. You and your team have thirty minutes to escape the small town before the horde arrives. Making loud noises like shooting a gun or hitting a car will bring hordes of zombies, who will quickly whittle down your resources.
During the first match of The Walking Dead Betrayal, when I was the Confidant, we were clearly getting our feelings for the game, testing its systems, and mostly unaware of what to do. There were traitors in our midst, but it wasn’t the traitors who took out the whole team.
One of the other players threw a Molotov Cocktail, trapping most of the group in a rail yard as a horde descended upon us. But this is where I got to experience the other half of The Walking Dead Betrayal. That is, if you die by a zombie’s hands, you turn into one. You can possess any walker on the map and exact your revenge upon the other living survivors. It’s an interesting way to keep the fun going even once you die.
“I was able to play the traitor class and really sow some seeds of doubt into my team’s social standings.”
The second match of The Walking Dead Betrayal was where everyone got more comfortable with the game and started trying to work together as a team. This would make things more interesting as I knew I was the traitor, and I could see the other traitor, but we could not signal each other in a way to formulate a plan. But then the perfect plan formed in front of us. Someone poisoned another team member while we were away from them, and I used this to start casting doubt on the other team members.
This worked very well, as I was soon voted to be the leader of the survivor group. You can also vote for who is the traitor, and they get cast out of the safe zone. They still play but cannot open the door and must be let in by another player. This caused massive panic and confusion as people started letting people back into the safe zone. We were getting nowhere with our escape goal as the other traitor stole materials from the encampment as I continued to sow seeds of doubt.
Eventually, everyone was getting low on health after a storm raged through, and I got caught using a traitor-only item. Another player saw through my deception and immediately set me on fire. Thankfully someone came to my aid, not being privy to the information, and as the meeting was happening about what had transpired, I pulled out said weapon and laid waste.
It was a good time, especially when everyone was getting into it, using voice chat, and trying to play their roles. I do have a few concerns. Playing together with friends or in a vocally safe group was fun. Playing this game with random people on the internet would be a nightmare. This is in part to how much your survival depends on being able to communicate and work together.
I have real concerns about how often we will see new content. The one map we played was fun, but I could also see it getting stale quickly. An easy way to mix things up would be different maps. We are unsure how many maps it will launch with, but it will need at least a few to have staying power. The final gripe I have is performance. Granted, this was a preview build, but everyone noticed the poor performance when the zombies started multiplying, and there were fires and disasters.
The Walking Dead Betrayal was a genuinely good time. It was difficult to grasp right away as so many systems are thrown at you immediately. But by the end of the second round, I was starting to pick them up. I will need to see more before I form a solid opinion on whether or not it would be something to enjoy for a long time, but it’s on my radar now for sure, and I look forward to learning more.