Warm Lamp Games’ Beholder is a game about a futuristic, dystopian society where the State controls every inch of your fate, and they watch every inch of your every move. Players take on the role of a State appointed landlord who must watch over his tenants and report any and everyone who doesn’t abide by the rules.
Instantly thoughts of George Orwell’s 1984 come to mind, along with other Big Brother-themed media such as One Point O. The overarching focus is based on the player’s moral compass and desires for self preservation: do you rat out your tenants to avoid being brought in by the State? Or do you try to protect the tenants until you yourself fall victim to the unflinching hammer of totalitarianism?
It’s a very similar setup to Papers, Please, but focuses on a more spy-oriented take on the theme of State control, privacy control and civic responsibilities.
Evgeny Sister, the producer at Alawar, commented in the press release about these themes, and topics of institutionally ordered behavior patterns, saying…
“Beholder models a totalitarian State in a bleak dystopian future, where the player’s moral compass will be rigorously tested,” […] “The State’s instructions are clear: report on any suspicious behavior. But what do you do when those actions threaten to leave two children fatherless? The game is filled with decisions like these where there is no right answer – only what feels right to the player.”
To get an idea of what they’re going for, you can check out the gameplay trailer below.
The trailer is so wickedly good.
As they showcase, you’ll not just be spying on people… you’ll be actively dipping the toes of reconnaissance into the very fabric of their lives. This includes searching their apartments when they’re not home, scavenging for a little extra coin, or even blackmailing people in order to get the most out of the hostel.
You’ll be forced to decide to bring in the State to apprehend people bending or breaking the law, or risk being brought in yourself. You’ll have to juggle between being a good servant of a twisted law, or a good person.
The darkened chalk-like characters and caricatured socially realized backgrounds juxtapose the game’s fictional overtones with a somewhat dreary presence of realism.
Beholder is available right now for $9.99, but is 20% off for the first week of being on sale. You can pick up a digital copy on Steam or learn more about it by visiting the Steam store page. It’s one of those games that remind us that giving up your privacy and individual rights are always just one scary step away from reality.