Beholder

Genre: Strategy / Dystopia / Adventure / Investigation
Developer: Warm Lamp Games
Gamemode: Singleplayer

This dark and depressing story of a landlord that is forced by the government to spy out his tenants reminds a lot of the secret police Stasi that we once had in Germany and is inspired by the existance of the KGB and Gestapo. Your superiors are watching over you while you have to decide if you'll help people or if they deserve to be reported and arrested by the police. You might help some to escape, others you will need to profile or even blackmail. Your first objective must be to find out the habits and interests of your tenants. Illegal goods got to be reported or confiscated, which means you can steal them. Your protagonist Carl is an ordinary family man, a state employee living in the basement of a house and gets drugged up on pills that keep him up steadily to control his renters and the maintenance of order while out on the street an atmosphere of warlike operations dominates everyday life.

Your world is ruled by a brutal despot, a dictatorship that prohibits everything foreign or different and reduces the life of their citizens to nationalistic ideas. Propaganda against free will and mind will determine your daily routine. You will need to make up your mind if you follow the rules of this state or if you choose your own conscience, because discrimination and harassment will haunt you day and night. You live in a country that is plagued by a totalitarian regime and the list of ridiculous laws grows each day. Life seems to be bleak and terrifying. Odd things happen and large sums of money are needed to prevent fatal incidents.

Turn into a bugger and prick or life-saver and caring neighbour and renter. Your supervisor will phone you to give you new tasks and observe how you execute the jobs. A sight to behold will earlier or later show to you, you will feel threatened, no doubt, hunted and punished. The question is if you will trade your own destiny by turning others in. The game will bring up the worst and best in you, your morality and selfishness, your will to survival and protective instinct.

While you accomplish your missions you'll need to keep an eye on the timer that may pop up and it won't be easy to fulfill requests from all sides. The game puts by the timer a clever pressure on you so that you would need to react to this like you would in a real life situation like this. The game will force you to decide whether you want to support the government or the revolutionary party that wants to bring down the government. Your priorities will set the path of your future. The consequences were never that important and clear as in this game. The Beholder lets you choose your own good or the common welfare of the society. You can not just ignore your orders because getting fired from the job means your death. You can choose to start certain missions by your behaviour and reactions, but you can not avoid the ending, which might be even then ironically sad although you decided to help. Life is just not always going straight and happy, that's the lesson. Somehow the game manages to surprise you pretty often, so prepare to repeat. You will encounter several attempts that won't work out. Fortunately reloading is easy because it saves automatically, but we still count this hard progression to the down sides of the game.

The graphic is kept in a simple but unique comic style art and communicates excellent the cold aura of sadness. The punishment of your tenants is no fun. The replay value is only shaped by the different decision you can come up with. The management inside your building is reduced to some repairs that you'll rarely need. Unfortunately you will be forced to earn some money by taking dishonourable actions to protect your family members and if you deal with the problems in a respectable way you will sacrifice yourself. This makes the game a bit unpleasant, because even if you try to reach a nobility of ideals you might be accused to have failed somehow or any twist might occur that leads to terrible fates. The moral dilemma of oppression and hardship will show how fast you would steal or lie to survive. Sooner or later you will start realizing the opposite sides and your choices might feel sometimes like flipping a coin. You will probably have the bitter taste of no satisfaction in the end, but the depth of the story is worth it to be played, although some is kept simple and short it will still touch you and you might even end up feeling kinda creepy about yourself. What we don't like is that they sell now additional DLC for extra money, because they should rather improve the game and add content for free. The game isn't really worth paying extra money for a little extra content.

We recommend: If you like adventure games, buy it!