Review: Beholder: Complete Edition

As I read the pitch for Beholder I couldn’t believe I would enjoy it. You play Carl, who relocated in a city in a totalitarian state.

Your job, as ordered by the city is to spy on the tenants in your new apartment block. You need to make sure that they are following the rule of law, and if they step out of line, make them pay. Basically, you are to do the state’s bidding. If you don’t, it’s game over.

My first impression was that the game’s aesthetic is as bleak as the plot. It’s dark, hand drawn environments look about as cosy as you’d expect. The characters themselves are nicely animated silhouettes and whereas it looks like a 2D exploration, you can move in and out of the environment which adds a bit more depth (both literally and figuratively) to the levels. It took me a while to figure this out and spent a good five minutes stuck in the first room. My bad.

1984 is a very obvious influence here. Your first task is to stealthily install cameras in your neighbours’ apartments in order to keep watch. As they leave you can break into their rooms and go through their belongings, giving you opportunity to report them, or if you’re feeling nefarious, blackmail them.

As you progress the decisions get a bit more challenging. You may decide to aid a family to help them save up enough money to make an escape. Do you plant evidence to get someone evicted just because the state says so? Moral decisions weigh up and will influence the way the story unfolds, however I did find that the tasks do become repetitive which had me flipping my moral compass around just to have some variety in outcomes.

The Complete Edition comes bundled with DLC featuring an extra main character which puts a nice spin on the game with some new tasks but it’s a short addition really to the base game which probably won’t occupy you for much more than an hour.

I did enjoy Beholder: Complete Edition but I can’t help feel my enjoyment was suppressed. Maybe this is the monotony through lack of variety, or maybe it is simply the game accurately conveying the oppression of the state. Either way, Beholder is a fun strategy game that’s worth a look.

Reviewed on PS4

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