Sunday, December 9

Review: Beholder - Complete Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As always an interesting part of playing games in the indie space is the ability to try out something new and different. In the case of Beholder: Complete Edition, for me at least, both boxes are definitely checked as you’ll be playing as a sort of cog in the surveillance state as a landlord of an apartment building who has been tasked with keeping tabs on his tenants by the scary people at the top. How scary? I’ll just note that as you’re walked into this new building you get to observe the former person with your job being carted out by the police. Considering you have a family to support it seems that you’d best do as they wish.


What follows is an unusual mix of stealth, social engineering, and moral dilemmas as you try to balance the needs of your tenants (many of whom are likable), your family, and the demands of the state. You’ll want and need to surveil and collect information on pretty well everyone by setting up cameras in their rooms, snooping through their things in search of the latest contraband, or even watching them through their door keyhole when things get desperate. Of course getting caught doing so will be a problem so you’ll need to get used to their daily routine, be sure they went out on the bus instead of just to the basement for a while, and keep an eye out for when the bus makes a stop out front in the event they’re about to come home.


Ultimately there’ll be some tougher decisions to make that could test your moral compass a bit depending on how you feel about things. You’ve been told someone needs to be evicted? By carefully keeping an eye out for evidence or going through their things you may be able to collect the evidence you need to have them taken care of, or you could opt for more nefarious means as well as long as you’re not caught.


While not everything quite comes together as likely intended the game experience is, without a doubt, unique and will challenge you in a few different directions. I would have appreciated a little more in-game direction as getting started and being sure what you need to do can be perplexing. Once you get into the routine of taking communication from “The Ministry” and working out what needs to be done it can provide few a few playthroughs (the included DLC adds an alternative situation as well) of something very different.


Score: 7

Pros:
  • A unique gameplay loop
  • Some moral ambiguity and testing of your moral compass (even in a game) can be a healthy thing
  • Sometimes the option to be a little bad is fun

Cons:
  • Working out what you need to be doing initially is a bit confusing
  • While there’s an emphasis on you making choices you never have the reassurance of complete control over things… though that may well be intended
  • The pacing can be a bit on the slow side