Beholder is set in a dystopian world where you become a landlord, work for the Minister of Order, and your job is to monitor everything your tenants do. If you’ve ever read the book 1984 you can appreciate that the game starts on September 1st, 1984 and has a sense of Orwell.
When I first loaded the game my first impression was positive. I liked the home screen and when you choose to start the game a screen comes up asking you if you want to play the difficult way or the easier way. It lets you know the difficult way is the way it was meant to be played so you know I chose that one! I don’t want to play something easy, I want to play how the developers intended it to be played. I would like to note that by default graphics are set to low, I went ahead and maxed them out and didn’t have any issues.
Once you’ve made your choice you’re immediately thrown into the introductory video. I must say the developers did a great job on this video and it really sets you up and gets you in the right mindset for the game. A lot of intro videos are boring and needless but I really think this one is great.
So this video sets up the story for you. Your name is Carl and you’ve been hired by the Ministry of Order. Your job is to be a landlord over an apartment building and know EVERYTHING your tenants do. You’re only human and you must sleep so you can’t possibly watch people all the time, right? Wrong. They’ve given you a serum to keep you awake so you don’t need sleep like normal people.
As I started playing the first mission I liked the controls and the feel of the map. The art design was well done and overall pleasant to look at and play through. With that said mission one was bugged for me and looking at the forums is bugged for a lot of people. I did the objectives like snoop in the tenants house and put up cameras but the guy never showed up. So I failed the mission and was fined but the game continued just fine after that. I finally got the evidence, called the cops on him, and they came and beat his ass and took him to jail! I’m doing my job well it seems.
To get the police to show up and to report on your tenants you have to file reports at your desk. While you’re doing this the game is still going on and you can miss your tenants doing something bad which is unfortunate, so you really have to hurry while filing your reports. You do need to file them correctly because if you mess up you get fined. Information you have to provide is who they are, which apartment they live in, if they live alone, the evidence against them, and which law they are breaking. So there is an element of memorizing and paying attention during the game. Every so often a new announcement comes saying something is illegal, it could be wearing a blue tie! You just have to keep an eye out.
The way you know when someone is doing something frowned upon or something illegal is by the color of the action bubble next to each person. White is normal, green means it’s something they shouldn’t be doing but not so severe the police come, red means you caught them red handed and can send them away to jail! The key is to click on the bubble though, just witnessing it isn’t enough. This can be hard, especially if you speed up time you might miss something so you must be careful. You can speed up time by pressing the “>>” next to the clock in the top left of your screen.
Besides calling the police for the missions you also can profile tenants which earns you cash. You use cash to unlock apartments for new tenants, you can buy items from a dealer outside like chocolate, alcohol, pants, whatever you need. There is also a government shop where you spend reputation points (gained from doing missions) and this is where you can buy surveillance cameras.
I’m a fan of the main story/quest line. You need to get evidence on your tenant to kick him out, great lets watch them. I personally am not the biggest fan of juggling five quests from multiple tenants, but I guess that’s part of the management aspect of the game and maybe I was being too narrow focused. Even with these side quests sometimes the game can feel a little slow. If you do start to feel like this and there are no quests you can immediately do anything about then see if you can buy some new cameras or upgrade them and try to place them in residence houses. Also you can try adding more apartments, however when I did this I couldn’t find any tenants at the time.
As I mentioned there are a lot of mission and your family provides a decent amount of them. I chose to ignore them, after all it’s just my family, but the results were interesting and unexpected. I knew my daughter was a little sick and gave her aspirin and called the doctor and figured she’d be okay. Well, she died. Yup, I killed my daughter. Huh. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the side quest! And as sad as I am that my daughter died, it really stung when they billed me $1,000 for the funeral services. Come on!
Alright, so now I’m spying on tenants and my daughter is dead, now what. Well since my daughter is dead I said heck with it. There was an announcement that it was illegal to read and I caught my son reading and reported him. I figured the less family I have the more focused I can be on my job, I’m a great employee. So the police came to my house, beat my son in front of my wife, and took him away. I thought my wife may be a little upset at me so I found her and talked to her…
… and she pulled out a gun. At first I thought “ok great, she’s going to kill herself. Makes sense.” Oh how I was wrong. She pointed it at me and pulled the trigger, head shot. I fell to the ground bleeding. What!?! Yup, that happened. It was amazing that this was in the game.
Alright so I figured that was it, game over I died and I’m back on the home screen. Actually the game auto saves periodically and so I could go back to the point before I caught my son reading and keep playing, this helps so if you make an epic mistake you can continue and don’t have to start from the beginning. So this time I caught my wife reading, reported her, she’s arrested. Booya!
Ok, so then I thought everything was going well. The Ministry said I was doing good and paid me $3,000 and I started hanging up propaganda posters. Well my building got bombed and people were running in the street! What’s going on? Then my son pulls out a gun and kills me. Why does everyone have guns!
The game is good. It has a good art direction, found one minor bug, and is an interesting concept. The game was a bit slow for me and I wish the tenants would commit crimes faster so I could keep having them arrested and getting new tenants. The side missions like finding someones glasses didn’t bring much real enjoyment to me. I think the most fun I had is when my family pulled out a gun and shot me, pretty hilarious. Some people might enjoy every aspect of this game but not everything appealed to me, which is fine. Overall the game is good and well developed. I’d say it’s a good buy when it’s on sale and a fair buy at regular price. If you can though, wait for a sale.
Here is a good game guide I found for it as I was researching a bug: Animono’s Beholder Guide