Thank you Alawar Entertainment for sending us this game to review!
In a totalitarian state, Carl Stein has been chosen to become a landlord in a class-D apartment block. To aid him in his duties, he’s been injected with an experimental drug that suppresses his need for sleep. When entering the apartment complex for the first time, Carl and his family get a glimpse of the former landlord who was obviously beat up and battered for his poor performance. The government isn’t messing around and they make their job requirements pretty clear.
Your job is to spy on, eavesdrop, profile, and report any suspicious behavior of your tenants. Reporting criminals who make drugs is a no brainer, but what about people who break the sillier laws? Do you report your wife who cries over your daughter’s illness? What about those who are unlawfully reading books, buying apples, or wearing blue ties or jeans?
On top of dealing with repairs and tasks from the government, you’ll have to find ways to stay afloat financially. Paying for groceries, utilities, college and medicine is not cheap. You’ll earn money from the government by profiling, reporting, and completing tasks from them. There are other ways to make money as well. You can blackmail, scheme with or against your tenants. One of the tasks given to me by the government was to influence a recent lottery winner to invest in jellied meat. Upon doing so I received a nastygram from him stating that he’d like to feed me all of this jellied meat he’s stuck with. Other interactions with the tenants can turn deadly as I was killed for flipping one of them off and another time I was murdered for destroying a library book.
Other than the blood, murder, and flipping people off, there is some language in this game as well. The F-bomb isn’t used, but the rest of the words are. This isn’t a game for children as it deals with many life and death situations. Do you dare defy the government while risking the lives of your loved ones?
Throughout the game you’ll have the “opportunity” to house known resistance members. If the government catches wind of this, you could be fined and wind up looking a lot like the previous landlord did when he failed his job performance review. On the flipside, you’ll also be tasked with housing important government officials and will be persuaded by the resistance to make their stay there an unpleasant one. Evicting tenants is sometimes necessary. If they don't leave willingly, you can plant illegal items in their apartments and then report them.
Each decision you make has consequences and with the limited finances, the choices are even tougher. The easier difficulty, Trainee, pays you more for your tasks and lowers the price of expenses. The normal difficulty is called Government Elite.
The gloomy graphics and bleak atmosphere are fitting for this war themed game. The characters have a shadow like appearance and their emotions are shown as thought bubbles above their heads. There's not much voice acting, but the background music and sounds effects are well done.
Like many games, characters have an exclamation point above their head if they have a quest for you. Though the quests usually don’t pay you, they can establish a relationship which can come in handy later down the line. For example, you can help set up a doctor on a blind date and in turn he’ll examine your daughter when she gets sick.
Besides money, you earn reputation points for completing quests and tasks. Reputation points can be spent to influence tenants to reveal more information about themselves or they can be used to intimidate people to get what you want. Some situations will require you to spend money or reputation points to smooth things over.
Though the tenants and main quests are the same, Beholder is replayable through making different decisions and unlocking various Steam achievements. There are achievements for keeping your entire family alive or for being the sole survivor.
In the end, Beholder is a thought-provoking game that tests your morality and love for your family at the same time. While there are moments of (occasionally crude) humor and silliness, the majority of the game is depressing with the constant warfare and overreaching government ruining the lives of its citizens.