Games about oppressive governments seem to be very popular as of late.
Beholder is one of the few games I picked up during the steam sale, and I am really glad I did.
As the new landlord of an apartment complex, your duties don’t just include fixing pipes and telling those damn kids to turn their music down, but to spy and report on the residents. Well, that is what you should do, you could blackmail them or even help them. However, every little thing you do or don’t do changes lives.
The opening cutscene, while short, sets the stage perfectly. You are shown before the game truly starts what could happen if you don’t do your job properly. This shows you just how high the stakes are before gameplay even starts.
Speaking of which, Beholder has this neverending sense of dread to it partly due to the gameplay. You see, as soon as you get a mission the countdown starts. The player is always up against the clock and you know what they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Everyone seems to compare Beholder to another popular indie game, Papers Please. While they are extremely different in terms of gameplay, they do have some striking similarities regarding themes. In both, you are placed in a position of power and forced to make a choice, follow the orders of your totalitarian government and keep you and your family safe (for the most part) or try to help those you can and get punished for it.
While I prefer Papers Please, the choices seem a bit harder in Beholder as you live with these characters and get to know them. Beholder also makes you jump through hoops to do the right thing, which makes it even harder to be a decent person. Heck, it is easier to plant illegal objects in a resident’s room and call the cops on them than it is getting their paperwork.
One thing they do have in common is, just like in Papers Please, Beholder has several endings. Although Beholder has a slight edge when it comes to replayability as there are several ways to get the job done. Each with their own risks and rewards.
Overall, this is a good game. It is hardly a walk in the park, but if you like suspenseful gameplay with political and moral themes, this is the game for you. I picked up the game during the holiday sales, so I paid around £2.30 but it has since gone back up to its original price of £6.99. For what you get, I would say it is a fair price.