Beholder on Steam (demo available)

MSRP: $9.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 11/9/16

If you’re looking for a game to play in which you’re the hero, this is not the game.  If you just want to feel good about yourself at the end of the day, well, this is not the game for that either.  If you want to try to do the right thing at the risk of a really awful ending, or just to make gut-wrenching decisions that make you feel like you need to wash your hands a couple of hundred times, well, now you’re wandering into the territory of Beholder.


You play as Carl Stein, a married man with two children, who has just been given the job of caretaker in an apartment building.  Except that’s not really your job.  Your job is to spy on your tenants and report on them for every possible infraction.  I told you, this is not a happy game.  You are a cog in the machine of a dystopian dictatorship, and either you’re working for the bad guys, or they’re probably coming for you next.


Even playing on the recently added Trainee difficulty, and going through the tutorial, I managed to fail my first mission.  Not because I was trying to be a good guy – no, I just couldn’t figure out how to make the game work.  If you find yourself stumbling up against a similar wall, use the phone in your office and choose the “reference” option – that will give you a few things you can ask about, and doing so cleared up the issue I was having.


There is one overarching story in Beholder, but making different choices will change how the game plays out.  Unless you’re looking for a serious challenge, I recommend using the lower difficulty at the start – while it does make the game easier, in a lot of ways, it also gives you the leeway to make some interesting choices without immediate and serious consequences.


Playing Beholder made me think of Papers, Please in atmosphere, but thus far seems to avoid the high pressure gameplay with an emphasis on attention to detail.  I never got too far in Papers, Please because I was always screwing things up, but I can see myself playing through Beholder in its entirety.  But not all at once. I think I need to go wash up again.

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