Beholder: Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 10.01.2019

Review for Beholder: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Beholder offers a glimpse into the potential future should the tabloids be believed, what with Brexit, Trump, Russia, China, and all. Reality is starting to seem like it's on the darkest timeline and that humanity is well on track for a dystopian Orwellian future. Beholder is set in just such a world. Playing as a family man working for the corrupt State, "Carl" has been given a new assignment of managing an apartment block and must balance the demands of his masters with the needs of his family... and the crushing morality of his actions.

Carl Stein has been appointed landlord of a Class D apartment block in the horrific, crumbling town of Krushvice 6. Moving into the basement with his wife and two children, he is quickly put on task to begin gathering information on his tenants. Doing so means talking to them, setting up cameras to spy on them, and breaking into their homes to go through their belongings. Pretty dark. You have to wait until the individuals leave their room, either to get some food from the kitchen, or to do laundry, or head off to work. While they're out, all manner of things can be found.

Like the future glimpsed with Snake Pliskin in Escape from New York, the State can regularly change laws at a whim, meaning various things may become illegal. Find weights in the young man's room? Vanity; such isn't allowed. Jeans? Contraband. Alcohol or fish? Illegal. Finding out this information is key early on. Missions begin to appear quickly, some from the State, some from the family. Tenants can be reported and the police make a speedy arrival to beat them and drag them off in a paddy wagon, and sometimes this is the conclusion wanted from the State. But, that doesn't have to be the way things go.

Carl can be a willing pawn in the grand scheme, finding out the secrets of every tenant, and using them against them. Blackmailing them for cash, or favours, or getting each arrested and sent off as he is instructed, or he can fight the power. Instead, he can use the information he gathers to help his fellow man. For example, early on a tenant is identified to be investigated and arrested. Should Carl dig deep enough he can find out the truth of the individual and try to help him. Instead of turning him over, make use of the others in the apartment to help him escape.

Screenshot for Beholder: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Regardless of which type of playthrough, the gameplay is much the same: establish the traits and behaviours of each tenant, then use them to progress. An archivist can get his hands on documents and digging through his cupboard can reveal him as an alcoholic. Purchasing some bootleg booze from the local shady merchant can whet his whistle enough to get hold of the papers. As things progress, helping strangers is one thing, but what about family or friends? What about changing the world? There's a revolution going on in the shadows - fighting against the monstrous government. Depending on the actions of Carl, there are numerous endings to achieve. Plenty of replay value here for those who are interested in pursuing them all, but there may be few who are, as Beholder has some issues that make it feel like a slog.

The worst is that it is horribly clunky. The core gameplay is going to be familiar to any old-school adventure fans. Talk to people, collect items, talk to someone else, etc. But there's not much depth to it, not much thought or complex design in the progression through each story. Talk to everyone and the choices are quite obvious - the time constraints occasionally make it a little trickier, but rarely. The thing that works against the player the most, are the controls. It's simple enough to move around and interact but there are a handful of menus that are a nightmare to navigate. Often accidentally closing something or dropping into a submenu.

This being the complete edition, the DLC is bundled alongside the full title. Blissful Sleep side-story acts as a prequel to the main experience. Taking on the role of Hector Medina this time, the predecessor of Carl, this previous administrator of the building has to jump through the same hoops as his successor. Hector has had a small clerical mistake at the State, which is recording his age as well above the truth - resulting in him being sent off to the local euthanasia centre. Hector has to juggle his commitments to the state with trying to fix the mistake before he's taken off to die. There's no family to drop bombs suddenly though, just a pet cat to keep happy.

Screenshot for Beholder: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Warm Lamp Games has delivered an interesting premise. The only way to progress is to dip toes into the murky grey area of the world. Fight against the State too much and Carl himself becomes a target... or he doesn't earn money - money he needs when his son gets in trouble or his daughter gets sick. It seems promising, but it quickly becomes rather dull. Once the basics are understood, they're repeated ad nauseum, and while the story has some interesting elements, the monotony of the gameplay is indefensible. Few will be able to power through enough to see the many endings hidden here.

Developer

Warm Lamp Games

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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