The games they are a-changin’. A beholder used to be “a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and many smaller eyestalks on top with deadly magical powers”. You’d find them in dungeons, hovering about and making a nuisance of themselves. 2016’s Beholder [official site] is a man called Carl and he’s a whole lot creepier than a floating testocular monster:
“As Carl, the landlord of an apartment house employed to serve the state…your daily routine is simply to make the property attractive to its tenants. Little do they know that you have ulterior motives and will use any means available to observe, whether it’s spying, eavesdropping or wiretapping as you build tenant profiles…”
Papers, Please meets The Lives of Others? There’s a demo available now.
The Papers, Please comparison came to mind not only because Beholder similarly as you playing as an employee of an oppressive surveillance state, but because it allows players to decide whether they’ll stick to the rules whatever the costs, or bend and break those rules in certain circumstances.
“…the philosophical narrative of Beholder, opens up questions around issues of social and moral values. If you are given power to destroy privacy, should you follow the orders of the giver? Or should you treat those that you spy on the way they deserve? Who decides what is deserved? And what if two different people deserve to be saved, but one has to go? Who will you choose?”
Made in Russia by new studio Warm Lamp Games, and inspired by “oppressive laws introduced by the Russian Government” as well as Orwell, Beholder is out later this year and you can download the demo right now for a taster. From what I can gather, reading the comments of people who played the beta, there is a linear narrative. That is to say, you’ll meet the same tenants on every playthrough, shaping the story and the possible fate of yourself and those tenants by making discoveries and decisions.