In ‘Beholder’ you play an apartment manager, appointed by the state to report on the illegal activities of your tenants. The game is set in an Orwellian dystopia where everything is tightly controlled by the state. As a landlord you can try to keep your residents happy and comfortable so that they’ll remain obedient citizens, or you can try to make them uncomfortable enough to leave and become someone else’s problem. As a state employee, you’re expected to eavesdrop on their conversations, break into their apartments and search for contraband, install hidden cameras, and report any illegal activity to the government.
You do have choices to make in Beholder. Having someone reported might leave a family with no income, and you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to report them anyway, try to save them from their plight, or blackmail them. It really does feel like something out of the book ‘1984‘, or ‘V for Vendetta’. The style of the art and graphics is somehow cute yet dark and brooding, instilling a sense of hopelessness, all at once.
Generally I love games that encourage a choice. Good guy or bad guy. Beholder offers a different choice. When the right thing to do in society is to obey the state in all things, then showing any empathy or sympathy for other people is bad, and could result in your death, so what do you do?