Freedom lives! Or does it? – Beholder Review

by Sammy Chan
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Developed by Warm Lamp games and published by Alawar, Beholder is a game about life and its decisions. You play as Carl Stein, husband to Ana Stein and father of Patrick and Martha Stein. The Ministry hires you to basically spy on and profile your tenants. Set in a dystopian future, the State controls every aspect of private and public life.
I picked this game up yesterday since it was the last day of Summer Sales,  why not. Few hours into the game, I soon learn that my job is actually a facade and my real mission is to gather intel of the tenants for the Ministry. Beholder offers a story full of twists as you encounter various tenants as they come and go. Learn about their backstory, then decide if you want to blackmail them, help them or get them arrested.  There are multiple endings to achieve and so far, I’ve achieved three of them and all of them were appalling.

Brooding music, great art

The art and music definitely helped convey a sense of oppression as you slowly get pulled into Carl’s daily life. The characters are presented in a black-blobby form with detailed features to tell them apart, a simple yet unique style. Since the setting of the game is in a dystopian future where oppression is the main theme, the game difficulty, in my opinion, was perfect. Even though some people find it discouraging, I thought it helped enhanced the feeling of being oppressed. This made the game immersive and real for me. As I progress through my third gameplay, I thought, for sure this time I’d know the way to the good ending – I was so wrong. Every decision you make comes back to you at some point and you will have to face the consequence of it.

Gameplay and all that

I’d say one of the cons of this game is its replayability. Once you get all the endings and learn all the backstory, there isn’t really much for you to do anymore. But, the game is only $3. It’s definitely worth the price, warranting you several hours of impressive narrative and gameplay. The second con is definitely the difficulty, especially when it comes to raising funds. Though, this isn’t something that’ll hold you down. By my third playthrough, I was cunning and devious Carl, a total contrast of the good-hearted Carl that I was from my first playthrough. My advice is to keep trying and you’ll figure it out, each previous gameplay will give you an edge for your next.

Recognition and recommendation

Beholder also won multiple awards from different categories including “Best Indie Game” and “Most Creative & Original” from Game Connection 2017. If you enjoyed Papers, please and This War of Mine, then I definitely recommend checking out Beholder. And if you like Beholder and want more, you can check out its DLC – Blissful Sleep. Blissful Sleep lets you play as Hector, the ex-landlord.
For more info on how to get the game, go here.
Enjoy Indie games just like I do? Here are some other titles that I think are worth your time.

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