Orwellian snoop ’em up Beholder is an uncomfortable game to play, and I feel this official live-action short from Kinodom Films captures some of its uneasy tension. Produced by the same crew that gave us the live-action Papers, Please film, this one goes the near-silent route, steadily escalating music aside. As in the game, a landlord turned snoop spies on his tenants, and tries to decide whether he should use his knowledge to win favour with the government, extort money through blackmail or help his own family directly. Give it a watch, as we’ve handily embedded it below.
The Beholder short is an intriguing one. It’s stranger and more high-concept than what Kinodom did with Papers, Please, and I feel it doesn’t entirely stick the landing. Still, credit where due, I admire their attempt to replicate the mostly-monochrome look of the game. What were previously abstract figures with white highlights become starkly silhouetted real people lurking in the shadows, ties, suspenders and buttons piercing white against the murky shades of grey behind them. It’s impressively well lit and produced, but feels a bit more self-indulgent than its predecessor.
Still, it’s great to even see well-produced shorts for games that are arguably long past being in vogue. I do wonder what other games would benefit from this treatment. I can’t help but giggle wondering what Gunpoint‘s world of improvised slapstick espionage would look like with real people. Personally, I’d love to see what a good film crew could do with first-person unsettler Paratopic. The game itself makes some nods to Cronenberg, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the approach taken. What do you lot reckon deserves the short film treatment next?
You can also find the Beholder film on Steam here. The game itself is currently 75% off there for £1.74/€2.49/$2.49, or in a bundle with its expansion and sequel for £10.16/€15.02/$15.02. The game is by Warm Lamp Games and published by Alawar Premium.