You’ve just become the manager of a new apartment building installed by the State. On the surface you want your building to be a nice place for your tenants to live, but it’s all just a cover for your real purpose – spying!
Beholder from Warm Lamp Games is part strategy, part stealth game that sees you eavesdropping and spying on your tenants in order to gain information on them and report it back to the State. Maybe they’re breaking the law, it’s up to you to decide on whether you want to report them or potentially help them.
You’re not just a building manager and a Government informer though, you also have a family to take care of, a wife and 2 children also need attention, help and looking after, whether it be providing money for food, searching for lost toys or paying for tuition, these are all things you’ll have to pay manage as you play.
Life starts out fairly simple; you only have a couple of tenants to look after. The Ministry will call you every now and then to give you tasks such as gathering information on a tenant. You’ll then need to keep an eye on their movements, looking out for things that they do – you can spy on them, setup cameras in their apartments, search through their belongings when they’re out and talk to them or other residents to get to know them better. Once you start to gather information you can create reports on each individual and send them to the Ministry.
Over time more difficult choices will open up to you and it can actually feel quite the burden to make a decision on someones life. Nothing ever feels black and white, there doesn’t seem to be a clear right or wrong answer and it’s in these moments where I really questioned and thought about what I was going to do. You have the choice to not report residents but you may face fines if you’re caught, but you can also help them out if you feel a little sympathy for them.
I found the overall story and world an interesting one, it feels very oppressive and you get the sense that a lot of your tenants are in some of their predicaments because of the state of things. Each character feels like they have a depth to them and you really get the sense that their life is well and truly in your hands. I wasn’t expecting things to become all that difficult from a personal and family point of view, but I was very wrong. There really were some difficult choices to be had. But what frustrated me was that some of the tasks that I had to complete were seemingly impossible to complete, but the consequences of not doing so were huge. It would become frustrating to just watch the time tick down on a task with there being nothing I could do about it.
Maybe it was a mistake that I’d made earlier in the game that led to certain tasks being un-achievable, but I don’t think it was, and it felt a little unfair to fail some, especially when it meant that failing certain objectives means you effectively lose the game.
During my first play through this is exactly what happened to me. I failed to finish an objective which meant I lost the game. You can then load a slightly earlier save point, but doing that made no difference as I still needed to earn a lot of money and there was no way that I could fathom how to earn enough, so was destined to fail again.
The visual style of the game is great, every character is silhouetted in darkness leaving a air of mystery to them at all times and the overall tone of the game with it’s dank and dark colour palette really give a great feeling of depressing and tough times for people. Marry that up with a sombre soundtrack and you have a really good mix to create an interesting world to play in. A lot of the time I was reminded of This War of MIne with similar musical tones, the point and click style of the game, and the heavy burden of decision making during tough times.
Overall Beholder is an interesting game that manages to be very engaging and captivating even though the reality is a rather grim sad one. I was very pleasantly surprised by Beholder and will continue to play it until I achieve some kind of ‘good’ ending as there are multiple ways in which the story can pan out. For only £6.99 I don’t think you can go too far wrong with Beholder, I think it certainly represents value for money!