Name: Beholder: Complete Edition
Publisher: Curve Digital
Released: 16, January 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed on: PS4
Acquired: *A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose*
With a time where our smart-objects are collecting more data than ever, the possibility of spying and reporting citizens’ interests to the authorities is more relevant than in a long time. In Beholder spying on citizens for the state is vital, and every choice have consequences. How do all of these consequences turn out? Let’s find out!
In Beholder you follow the story of Carl Stein, who’s starting his new job as a landlord at Krushvice 6. You have one clear task, spy on (and report) the tenants for the Ministry (the authorities). If not, you’ll not only lose your job, but be thrown in jail and your family will be punished for your mistakes.
Although I really like the story, and all of its choices, there are a few problems. Mainly the story is unevenly distributed, with there sometimes being ten-fifteen minutes between each “story-quest” and then I suddenly got three or four quests, all of them with a short time limit.
When the story is “hanging around” however, it’s really top notch. The game has several different endings (at least 3 main endings, with several minor differences that might occur in each ending), and your moral compass will get a workout as all dilemmas have several consequences both for Carl, the tenants and indeed the state.
When it comes to the DLC, Blissful Sleep, we play as Hector, the previous landlord. The story here is, unfortunately, a bit weaker than the main story. That being said, I did enjoy playing through it. Here too, you’ll have to make several difficult choices, and live with the consequences.
The art style in Beholder is simply put amazing! I needed only a couple of seconds watching the intro to get the feeling of the world Carl is living in, a totalitarian state, ravaged by war and lack of privacy.
The whole dystopian setting is very well portrayed, from the silhouettes of the characters, to the style in which the apartments are drawn. I was especially impressed with the character design though, as every time a new tenant approaches, it took me only a few minutes to start recognizing each and every one of them. Even though they are all just silhouettes with just a few features.
The only thing I would have changed is the “information about tenants”-screen, it is a bit too much switching back and forth between pages, and it’s not that much information on any of them.
The gameplay is a bit repetitive, there’s a lot of “check if tenant is home” if they’re not, go inside and go through his/her stuff and put up cameras, then write a report (if you choose to support the state). However, you can choose to oppose the Ministry and send false reports, or refuse to report stuff at all. Do this too much however, and the police will show up and “release you of duty”, and the game is over.
Another issue I had with the game is that there’s quite a lot of waiting, as Carl never sleeps. All of his tenants do, however, and therefore I had nothing to do most of the nights, as walking in on the tenants would, obviously, raise suspicion among them.
What I certainly enjoyed though, was the fact that almost all of your decisions had real consequences. Did you rat out the spy? Now you’re suddenly locked out of one of the endings. Did you help a tenant pay rent this month? Well, now you can’t afford your own medical bills. Every choice had to be thought through, with pros and cons constantly being weighed against each other.
With the Dualshock 4 in hand, it soon became clear the controllers could use some more polish. There’s not necessarily anything “wrong” with the controllers, but it is a bit difficult to select what object to interact with, sometimes Carl got stuck in the doorframe because I didn’t control him exactly straight forward, and the zooming controls were too sensitive.
Again, it wasn’t a big deal or anything like that, but given just a tiny bit more polish and affection, lots of those issues could have been solved and made the game feel more finished.
As the game has several endings the replay value is good! And yes, the endings are actually a lot different. It must be said that they are told to the player and not playable though. I haven’t played all the endings yet, but I want to know what happens if I choose to support the regime instead of oppressing. There’s supposedly smaller differences in all of the endings as well, depending on who survived, how you got to the end, etc.
I love the fact that my actions has real consequences for Carl, the tenants and indeed the country itself. I love the way everything looks. I love that I can play the entire game again, and get a whole other experience. However, I do not love the controls, and I find myself wondering if it is worth the wait in-between quests to play the entirety of the game once more. At least since I was relatively happy with the ending I created. (This being said, I’ll probably get back to it sometime later, anyhow)
I do recommend getting this game, as it is quite inexpensive and you’ll find yourself questioning giving your phone so much access to all of your apps and in-home smart-objects. I would advise you to play it on PC anyhow, as I imagine controls being better with a mouse/keyboard rather than a controller. The game certainly piqued my interest, and I’m now looking forward to Beholder 2, which is coming later this year!
Replay Value: 9/10
Total Score: 7.5/10
“A great game, but something is missing, worth for fans of the genre”