Do you like being nosey? Do you enjoy eavesdropping on unsuspecting neighbors? Perhaps snitching to the authorities gives you a rush? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, Beholder might just be the game you’ve been waiting for. In Beholder, you fill the shoes of a state-appointed landlord in an unforgiving totalitarian state. Will you have the skills to simultaneously take care of your family, please the tenants, and appease the State? Prepare to bribe, steal, and blackmail in order to make ends meet. Otherwise, you’ll be fired…or worse!
Systems: PC, OS X, Linux
Developer: Warm Lamp Games
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: November 9, 2016
Price: $9.99 (on Steam)
The game begins with your family moving into the basement of a small apartment complex. As you arrive, the former landlord is being escorted out of the building by police officers, somewhat foreshadowing your potential fate if you cannot perform your job correctly. Aside from yourself, you are accompanied by your wife, teenage son, and young daughter. After having received an introduction from your new boss, a short tutorial sequence of sorts, you are tasked with installing a few security camera. After the brief intro, the game stops holding your hand and you are put to work.
The main ‘meat’ of the game is comprised of sneaking around, peeking through peep-holes, surveying unaware tenants for bad habits and secrets, and reporting crime to the proper authorities. Well, that’s what a good landlord in a totalitarian state would do, at least. You are also given the opportunity to bend the rules a bit if you choose in order to collect extra cash or to do someone a favor. Be very careful, however, because one false move and you will receive a one-way ticket straight to the gulag!
Everything is dark in Beholder; the theme, setting, character models, your job, and even the character’s personalities and motives. Each resident has a unique personality, personal relationships, vices, and motivations. Interacting with the tenants can lead to discovering basic information about their spouses or neighbors. You’re not going to be able to dig up the juiciest info through conversation alone. In order to find out more about your tenants’ private lives, you must become a stalker.
The easiest and least-evasive method to get dirt on a tenant is to spy on them through the peep-hole on their front door. A riskier way to gather more information is to sneak into your tenants’ rooms when they aren’t home and search their belongings. If that doesn’t cut it, you can purchase security cameras and secretly install them. With enough cameras, you can spy on all tenants at the same time from the safety of your living room. If a tenant catches you snooping, they will pissed off and kick you out. If you are caught more than once, they will likely call the authorities and you’ll be hauled off to the gulag.
Once you’ve uncovered information about any particular tenant, you may return home and report them to your superiors. You may profile a tenant by filling out a form and reporting on any new information you happened to uncover. Each new piece of information reported grants you a cash payout. Every form filled out incorrectly will result in fines, so make sure to double-check. If you’ve discovered a tenant taking part in an illegal activity or in possession of illegal goods, you may report them. Afterward, the police will show up to abuse and arrest them.
During the course of the game you will face family emergencies and other problems that will require a large amount of cash to complete. When your pockets get tight you may have to take more drastic measures. This mainly includes theft and blackmail. To steal, just wait until your tenants leave the house for work. Once they’ve left, you’re free to loot their belongings for anything of value. After looting, you’ll need a place to sell off your ill-gotten gains. Luckily for you, a merchant shows up at the apartment complex daily to buy and sell goods.
Sometimes the merchant will offer to sell you illegal goods. To blackmail someone, you must find incriminating evidence to threaten them with. If you can’t catch a tenant breaking the law, you have the option to purchase some illegal goods from the merchant and frame them by placing it in their house while they are away. Just be aware that tenants will sometimes ignore blackmail or report the theft to the authorities. If you are reported, be prepared to pay a bribe. Otherwise, it’ll be off to the gulag with you!
Aside from the snooping and blackmailing tenants, Beholder also offers a main quest and a good amount of side-quests. Most of the main quest involves serving your superiors and fulfilling any tasks they assign you. Main quests generally involve getting rid of a certain tenant or providing useful information. Side quests generally come from your family or tenants. These quests are generally optional but depending on your actions during these quests, you might effect future events or even change the ending. Be wary when taking the missions. Tenants can turn out to be just as deadly as the authorities.
Final Judgment: 78%
I seriously enjoyed and appreciate every bit of the artwork and style of Beholder. The character designs were very unique, soundtrack was fitting, and art style really set a tragic tone for this dark, totalitarian wonderland. The characters have interesting backstories and were very interesting. I’m excited to play through the game again to see the alternate endings. The biggest flaws for me were the repetitive gameplay and the outrageous money demands required to complete certain side-quests. Despite the flaws, I look forward to following any new projects by Warm Lamp Games!
- Great art style
- Unique gameplay
- Unusual mechanics
- Good writing and story
- Excellent setting
- Decisions matter
- Multiple endings
- Too few tenants
- Insane demands from side quests
- Sometimes confusing
- Lacking in explanation at times