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Review – Beholder: Complete Edition

Beholder: Complete Edition is a game that challenges you to be a decent human being while living under totalitarian rule. Beholder: Complete Edition is also a game that allows you to be a useful tool of the state, spying and reporting on your neighbours and family. Which game it turns out to be is up to you.
As Carl Stein, gamers are dropped into the role of manager of a tenement – a rundown shack of an apartment building that the Ministry of Allocation puts him in charge of to keep tabs on its residents. Dosed with experimental drugs that remove his need to sleep, Carl provides around the clock surveillance of the building’s inhabitants while completing missions for the Ministry.
Enforcing the government’s rules seems easy enough at first, but there’s a never-ending stream of new ‘crimes’ issued every day via directives. Common sense crimes like drug use give way to owning blue jeans, reading books, listening to music, wearing a tie, etc… It becomes impossible to keep up with what’s a crime and what isn’t, and at one point I attempted to report a troublemaking resident to the Ministry only to discover their crime – owning illicit posters – wasn’t illegal anymore. The false report cost me a $100 fine…
Money is precious in Beholder, an easy solution to most of the problems that Carl will face – as to be expected in a society where everything is in short supply. When he lacked money, my version of Carl needed to barter and trade favours to keep his family safe and healthy. That’s another choice to be made though, Carl is also capable of turning in his own family…
Whatever you decide, you’ll have to decide fast. Each mission from the Ministry or random event that happens to befall Carl comes with a timer that continually ticks down and can leave you scrambling to find a solution. Can you remember which apartment you saw candy in while you were searching for contraband, for example, or do you have the money to buy candy from the peddler that appears on the street outside the apartment each day? There’s never simply one task to do either, life comes at poor Carl fast and you’ll need to juggle multiple tasks if you want to succeed.