Having played dozens of games to this point where moral choices are the focal point of the experience, I can say without hesitation that only a handful of games have gotten it right.
There are a large variety of issues why this is the case, but most often it’s because the presented scenarios come off as tired and uninteresting.
Luckily, this is not the case for Beholder, as it presents a genuinely intriguing premise- one that speaks directly to my own beliefs and made me feel a bit uncomfortable, in a good way.
Played: 6~ Hours
As the new landlord of an apartment complex, it’s Carl’s job to keep tabs on all of his tenants and report regularly to the totalitarian government that placed him there.
Being a father of two children, Carl has a lot of expectations to live up to, and a bad decision can not only mean the end of his life but his family’s as well.
In order to accomplish his mission, Carl has to thoroughly violate the trust and privacy of all the tenants by hiding cameras in the smoke detectors and rummaging through their belongings, Finding hints to the tenants habits to profile them or reporting them if they’re breaking any laws is the order of the day.
However, it’s also on Carl to turn a blind eye if he sees fit, or even resort to blackmailing the tenants if he so desires for some quick cash.
Personally, I am someone who greatly values his own privacy, and in turn I respect the privacy of others as well, being professional in my line of work to uphold my strict moral code.
In Carl’s shoes, this was all but impossible, and having to sneak into the rooms of strangers to spy on them and using that information in unsavory ways made me feel uncomfortable.
Even though this is just a video game, it’s a testament to the compelling scenario itself that I felt this way.
Many of the objectives are timed as well; having a certain amount of hours of in-game time to find a solution to a problem or raise enough money for something, and it felt quite stressful trying to decide what I would spend my limited funds on.
As the game suggests from the outset, many of the scenarios could be approached differently and the outcomes could vary drastically as well.
It can be as simple as trying to make a little extra money on the side when things go wrong and I end up betrayed by someone I thought I could trust and end up dead in the basement.
Luckily, the auto-saves are frequent and quite generous, which allowed me to get right back into it after my various deaths.
Even though the scenario is quite intriguing I found that I had seen most of what the game had to offer in terms of content in my 6~ hours of playtime, as the big events became all too familiar. Also, given the only actions I could take to give myself an advantage were quite limited, I felt myself getting bored rather quickly.
Still, I felt the content and the initial experience of filling Carl’s unfortunate shoes was more than compelling enough to warrant the low asking price of $9.99.
While Beholder isn’t exactly a title that’s set to shake up the indie scene, the intriguing premise and solid execution makes it well worth seeking out all the same.
Fun Tidbit – Trust no one. I don’t mean just in the game, I also mean in real life.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.