I loved the first Beholder game. It was great. You essentially are a janitor and caretaker that keeps tabs on the people in his house by adding cameras to their smoke detectors and by planting or removing evidence that would incriminate them. The ministry that you work for gives you missions and it essentially has choices that you can make, much like “Papers, Please!” does. I loved the formula and how it was adapted. The second game changed things up a little bit but I haven’t actually played it yet (despite owning it). Meanwhile, Beholder 3 is going back to its roots, though with a new art style and some new mechanics.
I was able to sign up for the public playtest the other day and hence am more than happy to share my thoughts on Beholder 3. Naturally, this isn’t the finished release or the final version, so there are bugs and issues that need tweaking but I can already tell that it is fairly polished!
You play as Frank Schwarz, a husband and father who lost his office job at the Ministry after someone framed him… and before being sent to the mines, a high-ranking officer saves him… but at what cost? We essentially are now a janitor (like in the first game) and have to keep tabs on the people while taking care of our family and while fixing the laundry machine and other utilities to earn money for ourselves. The main gameplay loop revolves around missions that your employer sends you. You may need to break into people’s apartments, search them for contraband or even frame them so that they’re out of the picture. Naturally, your own morals play a big role in how you play the game. Are you gonna be the Ministry’s lap dop or will you take care of your friends and family and do your best to save them.
From the get-go, I noticed how the graphics are much more akin to the second game instead of the dull and brown-ish colour palette from the first game. It’s an improvement for sure and furthermore, the game now has this 2.5D aesthetic that really works, although some areas are hard to access (for example, a TV behind a couch), so I’d like to see some solution for that sort of stuff. The tenants are interesting, offering a lot of different characters that could grow to you and put you in a dilemma of sorts. I had to get penicillin for a tenant as he suffered from pneumonia but if I wanted to I could have charged more money for it. Another person is very suspicious of me, so I’ll need to be warier around him and be careful about when I’ll plan the camera in their room or when I’ll break in to find evidence of their activities.
Naturally, you’re not “the boss”. The Ministry still has a leash on you and threatens to put you back into the mines if you don’t do as they say, so you have to take care of missions and do so quickly or else… Well, the time is ticking, so you’ll need to be smart about it and really keep those timers in mind. One of the missions actually vanished from the list after I completed a single step from it which sucked… Most likely a bug but I could still find it in my log but it was too late at that point and I failed the quest, getting eliminated in the process. Similarly, there are some elements of the gameplay loop that I don’t like too much. For example, cameras and lockpicks as well as other tools need to be bought with an extra currency that the Ministry grants you for completing their quests… If you accidentally bought some stuff already from the get-go and you don’t need that anytime soon, you end up soft-locking yourself, which sucks.
On top of that, I found the atmosphere to be gloomy and oppressive, like in the first game, which is great, but at times I just got bored because I had nothing to do… Having more tasks and quests would be pretty neat in that case. It would also make the world a bit more lively when residents would come to you for special requests or other stuff, like in the first game. Overall, I’d say that it certainly is an improvement compared to the first game… although there are still some things that I’d tweak. Again, I have yet to play the second game but I’m excited about it! All in all, I had a lot of fun with this during my playtime and I’m excited about the full release! Make sure to wishlist it on Steam! On another note, it seems as if Paintbucket Games are actually developing Beholder 3, so I’m looking forward to seeing their take on the totalitarian state and all of that.