Beholder Game Review: Authoritarian Landlording at its Finest

By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)



Sometimes you just want to be a fly on the wall, and spy on peoples’ lives. In Beholder you get to do this as your job. You get the job as a landlord in a totalitarian state to be exact; your job is to spy on your tenants and make sure that they are not doing anything suspicious. Spy, peep and eavesdrop to get as much information as possible – privacy is no more and the authorities are always watching. Trust no one, not even your next door neighbor. In this apartment building people come and go, but do you know who these transients really are? Find out in this grim dystopian future.


I know we all like to joke around on the Internet about the NSA spying on us all, but in reality there are some countries where the living standards can be this dire, and freedom of speech is different than what we are used to in the more westernized countries. But in some countries, having the wrong set of mind can be dangerous, and laws are oppressive to keep the population in control. Beholder likes to take this to extreme measures, but this time you are the one spying on the tenants that come and go like you own a hotel. Your first day on the job gives you privy access to witnessing the previous landlord being escorted out, apparently he didn’t do his job as he should’ve. Will you follow the rules and exceed him, or are you destined to be black bagged and made to disappear by the police as well?


Together with your family you will be staying in the basement. Perhaps not the most charming apartment to live in, but it gives you more room for tenants to live in. As a Landlord you obviously have the job to keep your tenants happy, and you will have to help them in their life with every little task they come up with. Be it loneliness, or needing some new clothes, or perhaps a tie to match with their new suit. You try to keep your tenants happy, and not make it too obvious you are actually keeping an eye on them. They have no idea that their privacy is gone, that nothing goes unnoticed, and that having prohibited items can seriously get them into trouble.


It doesn’t take long before you notice something is wrong with your first tenants. I myself encountered quite an aggressive and suspicious tenant after only a few days of working in my new apartment building. But before I knew what exactly his intentions or wrongdoings were, I had to spy on him and question the neighbors. I placed some cameras in his rental and continued interrogating his neighbors about his daily activities. One thing led to another and a few days later I was snooping around his rental looking for incriminating items and weapons. I uncovered that the tenant likes alcohol, had a broken bottle in his drawer that looked rather sharp and even had the nerve to possess an illegal fresh apple. Yes that is right, the apple was a prohibited item worthy of a police infraction! They came over right away, searched the place and before I knew it he was escorted out of the building. The police did take their time escorting out the tenant, and when I saw him leave he had some minor bruises here and there… but that was nothing for me to worry about. It is my job as landlord to do what the ministry wants, and I do not want to end up like the previous landlord, who is undoubtedly working in some mine right now.


Since you haven’t moved into the basement by yourself, you also have to take care of your family. My son was in university, and my daughter was still young and staying at home. Every day something else gets asked from you, be it your family or the other tenants. And since you always have something to do, you need to find the perfect balance of keeping your family happy, and making sure you have enough money in case something breaks. Bank loans in a totalitarian regime come at a hefty price after all. From what I’ve seen, in every new game you play, there is always something wrong with a family member that will cost you a lot of money. You’ll end up in a pinch coming up with the money, typically forcing yourself into illegal affairs to succeed. Obviously the world isn’t fair, and the authorities use you as a mere puppet, but it doesn’t really give me the feeling that I will be doing another play through once I am done with this story. In the end it all comes down to extorting people, calling the cops on bad tenants, and getting as much money as possible before you get another medical bill that will drain your life savings.


But back to the tasks asked of you. Most of the time these minor tasks do not take that long to do, or aren’t time bound at all. But the major tasks, like evicting people, should be done in the required time, or there will be consequences. And no matter what you are doing, be it either spying on people or invading someone’s privacy, once the phone rings you better be there to pick it up. The police don’t like being left hanging. All in all, Beholder is a very stressful game that somehow still ends up extremely fun.



Conclusion: Excellent

Beholder is an extremely fun game to play. When I fired up the game for the first play through, hours flew by and I had a lot of fun trying to keep my virtual life prosperous while balancing my family’s health and happiness. When playing I didn’t have a moment’s rest, because you keep getting bad news and it all comes down to extorting your tenants, and trying to get as much money out of them as you possibly can. The tenants are also able to fight with each other, resulting in more dilemmas each day than you can possibly handle. In the meanwhile your family gets sicker, everything breaks, and I had to send my son to the mines to earn some extra cash. Beholder gives you a drastic realization of what the living standards in some parts of the world may be. The game gives you a great look at how scary the world and the value of privacy may be, and throws you into this endless loop of awful news that you have to overcome to stay healthy. Doing so without getting into trouble with the authorities is a Herculean task. For only 10$ on Steam this game is definitely worth the fun, and I definitely recommend it to everyone who wants to be a fly on the wall.

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