Beholder (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 18.12.2016 1

Review for Beholder on PC

Games have a unique opportunity to make players experience a life unlike their own. While so-called "empathy games" results are debatable, there are others that showcase the darkness of the world we live in through interactive conflict. Games like Darfus is Dying, Papers, Please and This War of Mine have brought the interactive world to a place where we gamers can start discussing real world issues. Beholder aims to do that as well, and it targets a different kind of experience.

Beholder is the story of a new landlord and his family, who are tasked by the government in a horrifying future to spy on their tenants. It's clear early on that player character Carl isn't excited about doing this espionage for the malicious ministry, but it's his job, and he has a family to provide for—so spy he does, while also forming relationships with the tenants, fixing up the apartments, and bringing in new tenants.

There's not so much a plot as a malleable story that fits your decisions. This game doesn't pretend not to be cynical, and certain decisions leads to absolutely heart-breaking moments, which speaks to Beholder's power. While the characters have somewhat human composition, they're clearly not humans in the traditional sense. Still, they manage to be incredibly relatable, and you'll find yourself very sad when bad things happen to them, and equally happy when something good happens for them.

Don't be misled by the description of the characters, because they factor heavily into the atmosphere. While characters may have different shapes and sizes, their lack of detail clearly conveys the truth of this world. You, as in Carl, are a cog. There's no need to form a bond, according to this world, with anyone, because cynicism reigns supreme and hope is for the weak. The lack of detail in the characters is almost poetic, a reminder of the lost cause that is hope.

Screenshot for Beholder on PC

Still, you can, and definitely should, cling to that hope. Carl does need to care for his family. Early on, his daughter wants to play with him, and it's gut wrenching when he tells her no. While you do get to make choices, it's just as important to consider the choices you don't get to make—so when the ministry calls and asks Carl to spy on the gentleman in the second apartment, it's clear that even as you get to know your neighbours and have meaningful conversations with everyone that you must be a cog.

Still, much like its many characters, Beholder isn't without its flaws. One issue the game comes across is long load times, which are relatively annoying. The on-screen text is also very small, making reading a lot of things like journal notes incredibly difficult. Movement is made by clicking on items or areas of the building, then interacting with those devices. This is fine, but occasionally the game won't recognise a click.

Some of the dialogue letters seem to blend together, but it's minor at worst. Really, the stars of Beholder are the characters. For fans of games like This War of Mine or Fallout Shelter, this is set up exactly the same way, as in from the side of the action. This plays well with sneaking into tenants' apartments and setting up surveillance, or sifting through their possessions. The difficulty is also worth mentioning, as it is fairly steep. Players would do good to know that, in advance, there is definitely a curve here at play, though others will appreciate it for what it is.

Beholder wants the player to suffer for their choices, and yet understand why they had to be made. Whether you like games that make social commentary or not, there's something satisfying about holding the fate of all of these people in your hands. The only thing that comes with death besides gut wrenching failure is you'll know you have a chance to try it all over again.

Screenshot for Beholder on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Beholder doesn't hold your hand, because the things you're doing could be considered heinous, or even uplifting; it's entirely up to you. This level of freedom is often teased, but not met. While there are issues that drag the game backwards, players should seek to overcome them, because this is a truly bleak world, and it has no problem letting you know it.

Developer

Warm Lamp Games

Publisher

Alawar Entertainment

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I tried the beta of this and whilst intriguing, it grew to be quite repetitive and even had a time where the results of my decisions led to a dead end and I could do nothing other than wait for the timer to run down and be arrested.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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