Imagine a world where you can’t trust your neighbours. Where everyone is spying on everyone else. Imagine a world where you are the landlord of a building and it is your job to spy on your tenants and report them to the government. This is the world that Beholder is set in. A slight parody of the old Soviet Union.
You play as Carl, a family man with a wife, a son at university and a young daughter. You have been installed as the landlord of a building and it is your job to keep the building running, to spy on your tenants and to keep everyone happy. This includes your family. You should never forget about your family. Just to ratchet up the pressure, at the start of the game you see your predecessor being lead away in handcuffs.
There are several ways that you can play the game. You can be the good government shill and do your job diligently, you can be kind to your neighbours or you can be just in it for yourself. There are choices to be made but all choices have consequences. Some could lead to people not liking you, to them not helping you or even to you being arrested.
The gameplay is simple enough. The setting is one house that you can view from the outside and walk around the inside. You can gain the intelligence that you need on your tenants by talking to other tenants and also by placing surveillance equipment in the rooms. You can also search the room by hand but you have to be careful not to get caught when you are inside a tenants room as this can ruin a relationship with them.
As the game progresses you will repair rooms that are closed at the start so that you can take on more tenants. This means that you have more people to gain information from and also more potential targets. As you play you may be rewarded for helping a tenant with a gift. These gifts can then be used to help other tenants and your family to gain more favour. The smallest thing that you do can make a very large difference to what happens. At first we found that some objects seemed pretty useless but later on we wished that we had kept hold of them because not having them was a real hindrance.
In Beholder there are two currencies, dollars and reputation. Dollars is obvious – this is money but your reputation is your standing with the community. Both of these currencies can be used to buy things that are useful to your job such as security cameras or the like. You gain these currencies by completing tasks and also by filing reports on your tenants. It is always useful to profile your tenants as this both builds up a picture of who they are and also it earns you money and reputation and you can never have too much of either of these.
On the face of it, when you start up Beholder for the first time it seems like this could become a very boring game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tasks come to you thick and fast. You will never be short of something to do. If you seem to be at a point where not a lot is happening and you are just waiting for someone to do something then you can speed up time but this is really unnecessary most of the time. If anything, you will often feel like you have too much going on and things can get a little stressful. The longer the game goes on the more stressful things become. There is always the threat of arrest hanging over you and the smallest mistake can snowball to this conclusion.
It is very nice to see a developer doing something a little different and to pull it off in this way is an absolute marvel. This is one of the most fun and addictive games that we have played in a long time. This might not be a game for everyone. If you like your action to be moving around and shooting at you then this isn’t for you. But if you like games with a difference, where the action comes in unexpected ways then you should definitely try Beholder out.
Beholder is available to download from the Xbox Store, priced at £
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Beholder is a game that is a little different. From the outside it looks like a dull strategy game, from the inside it is an action packed game filled with intrigue and paranoia. If you are looking for something a little different that will suck you in and not let you go then this is certainly a game that you should try.