Beholder is a unique game set in an alternate future where it appears Russia is still under communist control. The Russian roots of the game are evident from the second you launch it, mainly because the menu screen defaults to Russian, after going through the options and setting it to English you are ready to begin. You enter the game and from the very beginning it is evident you aren't special. You're just a normal guy who decided to become a government spy to provide for (and protect) your family. As you arrive at the apartment you have been assigned to spy on, you see a beaten bloody man being dragged out of the building, your predecessor. Evidently he either refused to do what the government asked of him, or he got greedy. Will you make the same mistake? Only you can decide the fate of your family.
Upon starting Beholder I was skeptical, while the artwork and overall ascetic was beautiful the voice acting in the opening cutscene was of fairly poor quality. I was worried I would have to sit through the entire game listening to a low quality voice over. Fortunately after the cutscene there was no more voice over which is, in my opinion, far better than a low quality voice over. The game's controls were fairly easy to learn and no keyboard was required to play the game. The objective of the game is to spy on your tenants by installing hidden cameras and try and find any laws they might break. If a tenant is seen breaking a law you have multiple options, you can chose to: look the other way, report them to the government, or blackmail them. If you report them or blackmail them you get some money, seems like a no brainer right? Well, this is where morals come into play. The law that a citizen is breaking might be something as simple as eating an apple. That's right apples are illegal and you are expected to report anyone found eating them. If you report them, the cops will arrive to beat and arrest them. Letting it slide seems like a lot more viable option now, right?
How you play the game will affect the ending you get, somebody who is loyal to the government the entire game will receive a different ending than somebody who choose to help the tenants. The constant moral dilemmas are a big part of what makes Beholder such an interesting game. One of the first quests you receive involves a tenant who seems like a genuinely nice guy. After learning about him a for a while you think the government will lose interest in him because he is just a kind intelligent person who has broken no law, they immediately tell you to evict him. You can chose to throw him and his wife on the street for no good reason, or you can help him. What do you do? If you help him your job is at risk and you have to try and help him escape the country, but if you don't help him you have to live with putting a good man out of house and home. You have to make this decision all while surrounded by your family who you want to protect, but you also have to imagine them being thrown out in the cold for no good reason. This game will force you to think about every choice you make and decide who you want to be.
Beholder is an interesting experience and one I genuinely enjoyed, I recommended it to a friend and he told me he had to quit because there was a decision he couldn't make. This game will get to you if you let it and that is part of what makes it so enjoyable. It's a beautiful game with an interesting story and a masterfully crafted dystopian world. I would definitely recommend picking this game up on Steam right now. It is absolutely worth playing. Plus it's only $10 USD on Steam, in my opinion that's a great deal!
Rating - 2 (I know it looks bad, but 2 is actually the best score in our review system)
You'll like if....
You won't like if....
- You're a fan of story driven experiences.
- You like playing a game in multiple ways.
- You like dark, interesting worlds
- You like games that are compelling.
- You like making decisions.
- You aren't a fan of moral choices.
- Slow games aren't your thing.
- You prefer games that emphasize action over story.
Beholder is an interesting game set in a dystopian society. You act as a building manager hired by the government to spy on your tenants. Your job as a spy is to make some intense moral decisions, do you do your job properly, or help out good people in a dark world?