Launching shortly after the release of its sequel Beholder 2 on Steam in December, developer Warm Lamp Games‘ critically acclaimed Beholder has arrived for Nintendo fans, complete with its ‘Blissful Sleep‘ DLC in a neat package. The game has an interesting concept and some novel ideas, but ultimately its odd gameplay and strange difficulty make it a chore to complete.
‘Appointed’ by a corrupt government and sent to oversee an apartment building with your family, Beholder puts you in control of Carl Stein, a man who must do his very best to keep the peace during a time of totalitarian oppression, with increasingly bubbling rebellion rising under the surface. As time progresses, you will be tested both morally and monetarily, making key choices on whether you want to be a corrupt landlord blackmailing your tenants, a people’s champion looking after your family and friends, or a government lapdog, doing their bidding with no questions asked.
Beholder has plenty of intriguing characters, each with their own stories and motivations, but the gameplay can be pretty frustrating at times. Reminiscent of Fallout Shelter in its design, the 3D, ‘side-on’ perspective results in constantly getting stuck on objects when trying to run around, and the menu system is also pretty hard to navigate. When trying to submit a report early on, I failed the mission because I didn’t know how to work it, and accidentally quit menus when trying to search for simple information. Mix that in with some weird load times, and I can’t help but feel like this plays much better on a PC.
I appreciate what Beholder was going for in its moral quandary, but it always felt like it was happening because I was doing something wrong. A lot of urgent family missions require insane amounts of money that I had literally no idea how to get, and so I had no choice but to watch my family suffer. I understand these hard choices were the point of the game, but I felt like I was failing, and thus it didn’t make the game fun. I’d definitely recommend selecting the easier difficulty, despite what the developer recommends.
The DLC has an interesting plot to it, but takes place in the same environment with a similar cast of characters, and whilst it does have an interesting connection to the original, it missed an opportunity to be a unique experience. It sadly suffers the same fate as most ‘complete editions’: with the additional content not benefiting from the original time gap anymore, most players are fatigued by the end of the main story and give it a miss.
Beholder: Complete Edition
Beholder has a clever, unique concept, and explores some interesting ideas in its story, but in the Switch port of the game the controls and menus, alongside the abnormal ‘recommended’ difficulty make it more of a chore to play than previous versions.