Note: This is still in Beta.
When I was given a code for the game Beholder, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Judging by the email, it was developed in Russia and I know what a Beholder is. In D&D terms, a Beholder is a mystic entity with several eyestalks and one huge eye. It is able to see everything; nothing escapes its grasp. So when I saw the title, I was curious. Beholder the game is true to that ideal in some ways. You play as a man in a Russian-styled state, where the ideals of the State must be upheld at all costs. You are hired to be the landlord of a tenement building, and as you arrive with your family, the last guy to do the job was hauled away in handcuffs. I presume he’s going to be executed, or re-educated. You are given his job, and instructions from your superior. You are to keep tabs on everyone in the building, and if someone is breaking the law, you are to gather proof by entering their apartment when they are not there, and talking to the other people in the building to build your case. I say build your case, but once you have what you consider proof, the State will move in and take care of it. They really build a mood and immerse you in it.
This game was so jarring to me. It’s a combination of Papers Please! and Fallout Shelter, in all of the best ways. I have to say, it was very hard for me to play. With family that came from that kind of environment [before it got too bad, anyway. . .], the notion that I had to install cameras in peoples homes, and make sure to turn in anyone who broke the law became more and more stressful, the longer I played. You have targets to spy on, and once you find something [and you will], you must make certain they are dealt with in a timely manner. The State also calls down new ordinances that you must make certain aren’t going on, like “Possessing foreign money”, “Gambling”, and it just becomes harder and harder to do the longer it goes on. Success rewards you with money and fame, failure? You’re fined. Maybe worse. This game became stressful and almost painful for me to play but I honestly loved it. The graphics may feel a bit cartoony and shadowy, but they very realistically put together a world where nobody is safe, the State is Law and Life, and doing ones job and duty to the State is paramount. The first man I punished felt like he was really a criminal. He had no job, was cooking up drugs, and was in general surly and disrespectful. But the farther in I go, I have a feeling they’re going to be innocent people that I just put out because of these ludicrous rules.
Verdict: This game will make you question the world around you. It will force you to make decisions that are uncomfortable and hard to swallow, in the name of the State. Can you do it? I could but I really had to think about what I was doing. I loved it though. When this comes out, if you’re into that style of game, please take a look. Given my families background, it was pretty unsettling, but I appreciate that level of attention to detail and realism. You won’t be disappointed.