Beholder: You Are What You Behold
When you play games in which the land is ruled by ruthless totalitarian aristocrats, you play the role of the hero, who will bring down the regime, or one of the people instrumental in the overall struggle against oppression. Beholder is the second type of game, where you play the part of Carl, who owns an apartment in the ravaged land. Carl is a spy and helps tenants to work against the regime and earn cash. He also gets to make a list of quests given to him by various characters in the fight against the regime.
Developer: Warm Lamp Games (Siberia)
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment (USA)
Platform(s): Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS
Release(s): November 2016
This is a game that attempts humour, but this is never really apparent due to its dark nature. This can be confusing since you are at a loss as to how to connect with the game. The absolute rule of the regime is never understated, and you feel sad at how the rulers are treating the citizenry, but you seem to be doing tasks that are bleak. The one thing that is very clear is that you must protect yourself from the regime and its agents. Carl and his wife seem to be at loggerheads and are not very good people. This adds to the confusion within the game. The children are a spoilt lot, who wait for money to be made and then spend it lavishly.
The game is composed of missions, which you must complete within a certain time frame. You attempt to please the agents of the rulers, who constantly keep checking on how you are doing and maintain the family well and happy. You are supposed to perform tasks given to you by the “Ministry” and from the apartment residents and political nonconformists who keep on contacting you. This puts you in a position where you have to choose what to pursue and what to ignore.
The game becomes interesting when you have too much to do and time is running out on you. You look for ways to make money to buy a critical item that will save the mission. You may also have to decide which task to choose. However, the game takes a long time before you get to such exciting parts, or you may need to get information from a resident who is gone for the day, and you have to wait. You are the determinant of the speed of the game, by choosing when to start certain missions, but it is quite hard to choose when to be boring and when to be busy.
Attention to missions
This is a game where the choice of mission plays a significant role in the whole game experience. There are several ways in which you can attempt a particular task. The game can be a bit flawed in that the moral approach is not always the best when it comes to completing a task; you may need to do something immoral to finish a mission in less time.
Think of a scenario where you are supposed to evict a man from his house. You have individual choices that you can make:
The immoral way:
- Spy on him by looking through the peephole of his door to catch him doing something wrong.
- Stealing from a neighbour and pacing the stolen item in the tenant’s house.
- Buying illegal goods from an unscrupulous trader and planting them in his house.
You then write a crime report, file it with the police and watch as the man is dragged away from his family to jail.
The moral way:
- Talk to other residents and look for an amicable way of asking him to leave the apartment.
- Trade some goods and find a way out for the man and his family on a boat. After sending the man and his family out of the state by boat, you get to learn that the ship sunk and the whole family died!
Should you have the man arrested, or should you send him out by boat? This attests to the dark nature of the game, where the right decision is not always the best one.
The game has a huge focus on the consequences of choice, and this makes it a game that you can play more than once; make one choice in your first playthrough, and then repeat the game and make another. The way you send a lot of time within the apartment building can sometimes get you feel boxed in.
The game becomes very exciting when you are in a desperate situation; you may end up robbing your tenants of their valuables or blackmailing them when you need some urgent cash. There are times when you are even forced to think of killing your tenants.
What you need to keep in mind is that there is always a payoff for every action and decision you make. They will all affect the ending of the game in one way or another. If you do not like how the game ends, you can always go through it again and make different choices.