Let’s be honest for a second. You’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to have access to cameras and be able to spy on someone. Now lets take it a couple steps further.
Beholder, an indie game developed by Warm Lamp Games, places you in total control of not only your fate but the fate of the people around you.
You play as Carl Stein, the new manager of the apartment block; however, that is only your secondary job. Stein has been hired by the Ministry of Allocation to spy on and report any residents performing illegal actions. After being injected with a drug that suppresses the need for sleep, Stein moves in with his family into the apartments.
Gameplay consists of using security cameras to spy on the residents and gathering information about them, like their hobbies or if they have performed anything illegal (the government will continuously announce new illegal actions, like eating an apple or singing). Security cameras are set up manually by placing them into smoke detectors (at least one is located in every room). New security cameras (they are destroyed after being placed in a room that is excavated) can be bought from the shop button in the top-right corner.
If a resident has done something illegal, you can report them to the Ministry when they ask for information on specific people (and get paid), or blackmail them (threaten them for doing something illegal and get paid). Reporting a resident will get them taken away and close down the apartment they lived in. Apartments can be reopened for a fee.
Blackmail can be performed in multiple ways. Either they perform an illegal action, and you store that information, making blackmail possible or you obtain an illegal object, place it in their room, and then blackmail them for possession of an illegal object. Illegal objects (even before it may become an illegal object) can be purchased by a vendor outside the apartment complex.
Doing your job given by the Ministry rewards you with money (used to buy items and reopen apartments and reputation points (used to buy more cameras; also gained by talking to people). Talking to people also automatically records any significant information about them (said information is recorded in their profile).
Overall, the entire process of the game is extremely mentally taxing. As deadlines for tasks come closer, the pressure to complete every task grows and ultimately results in sacrificing something, either letting your children down or losing your life. It is all about maintaining and management of your money, which is easily depleted by bills, your kids, buying items and opening up new apartment rooms. The main focus of the game quickly changes from “doing what the government wants you to do” to “doing what you need to do to survive.”
Every action in this game has a form of consequence, and it is possible to die even from reporting on someone to the ministry. Spending money on something can lead to not having enough to pay for your taxes or even open any rooms in the hotel. Whenever the player fails to pay for something (like a bill or a doctor), either the government will take you away and result in an instant game-over or the game will course away from the perfect ending and lead to another alternative ending where some member of the family is negatively impacted.
Controls only require the mouse for movement and clicking. The screen can encompass the entire apartment block (however you can only see where there are cameras or access to light). On-screen is a bag, a clock (with a task-list showing all tasks and how much time is left to complete each of them), a profile of all residents and details of their hobbies, government statements (decrees that state illegal actions) and mail (provides information of local events, may or may not relate to the family’s life).
Beholder has two forms of difficulties; trainee (reduced prices, higher rate of income) and government elite (hard choices to make and more difficult challenges to face, i.e. higher taxes or more tasks to complete at once).
The report system in Beholder requires a lot of input to either report someone to the ministry or blackmail. It requires a lot of input that feels both necessary and excessive; requiring the name of the resident that is being reported, which apartment he resides in, which law he violated, which day that law was given out and the evidence which proves that the resident broke the law (a mistake in the report will cause the player to be fined).
The most attractive aspect of the game is the difficultly of the decision making and task management. At times, multiple tasks will be placed upon that forces the player to quickly obtain money and then sell to pay off bills or pay a doctoral fee for your daughter. Any failure to properly manage your money will result in some form of loss, whether its loss of a family member or your own life. The player will have to incorporate all aspects of the game to have a completely successful play-through (which I have yet to complete without sacrificing a member of my in-game family in some form).
- Amazing gameplay and overall design of the game
- Enjoyable difficulty
- Reset points (Beholder does not have save files, however it does automatically save a new reset point to start over from for every task recieved) (yes, that means it technically has a save file for every single task given in game)
- Report/blackmail system is far too extensive and drains time needed to complete tasks
Reviewed on: PC; Developer: Warm Lamp Games; Players: Single Player; Released: November 9, 2016; ESRB: NA; MSRP: $9.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher