For all of you that think that running an apartment building and spying on your neighbors is a great way to spend time, Beholder might be an ideal game for you but, add to that the fact that you’re a public servant bent on ruining people’s lives and you’ll get a perfect sneaky weasel you will play as. However, the game itself is not that recommendable as it might seem according to the premise.
Idea wise, Beholder is the game that would be revered by almost all strategy fans. The character you’re playing as is Carl Stain, a landlord appointed by the government for an apartment building. Although there is no explicit proof which country you are in, it is clearly some Eastern-European totalitarian regime. So we have a government official who is appointed as a landlord, which duties are to spy and report anyone in the building who is deemed suspicious or breaking the gradually stricter laws.
The main element of the gameplay is placing security cameras inside of your tenants’ homes. That way you can profile their habits and report them to your higher-ups. The choices that are put before you vary from the simple ones, like which tenants you let move in, to dire ones. Sometimes you will have to choose whether you will evict a tenant or help them escape. And there is also your family and their well being. The problem is that family matters can turn really dark.
Nothing wrong with being dark, it’s even welcome in many cases. However, Beholder radiates with the constant sinking sense of dread that only brings you lower in darkness as further as you go. In the end, only darkness remains, without even a glimmer of hope. Even if you try to make good moves, it often ends up in tragedy whatsoever. The feeling of dread is not caused only by the narrative. There are also gameplay elements, as the deadline to raise enough money before a major event happens, which pushes you even further into hopelessness with the rest of the characters.
Because there is a branching out, you can play this game multiple times with different outcomes. But, those repeated sessions might seem to be repetitive, due to the lack of random elements. The visual style of the Beholder mostly remains of Playdead’s Limbo, panda gameplay is a rewarding mashup of strategy, management, and stealth.
We would lie if we said that Beholder is a bad game, but it is undoubtedly overshadowed by permeating feeling of dread and despair which makes the gameplay exhausting and depressing. We understand that not all games are supposed to be happy-go-lucky, but the experience of overcoming the game should make you feel satisfied. Unfortunately, Beholder is not that kind of the game.