I have this nightmare in which I work in an office, I go there day in day out filing the same paperwork, stamping the same stamps only to make enough to scrap by in a tiny lil apartment to house a bed so I can sleep long enough to go and do it all over again. That is utterly terrifying to me, gives me hives just thinking about it. So when Beholder 2 came up my first thought was ‘So this is how I die!’ but alas, I made it through to bring you this review.
If you are just catching up on what Beholder 2 is I shall give you a quick run down of the first title which is funnily enough titled Beholder; go figure. The basis of the game has Carl, the player, living in a totalitarian state in which he is appointed a landlord over several places. The Government has set you the task of spying on them and will have you reporting on their deeds, bugging their houses and going through their property. You can either follow orders or rebel against them with each choice changing the way the story unfolds and ends. The sequel however has you playing as Evan who after hearing of his Fathers mysterious death goes to work at the same company called the Ministry in which you will go to work, complete paperwork and maybe you will find out who killed your Father and why. Or maybe you will just become a full on company man who just swan dives into piles of money at the end of the night, choice is yours.
You will spend your days in Beholder 2 listening to peoples problems and filling out paperwork according to what they have to say. It all breaks down to several categories, citizens of the city will come in and its up to you to decide if they are making a request of the Government, complaining about something in a general way, they have come to denounce another of their fellow citizens or are presenting information. Once you have decided that you then need to decide just which department it needs to be broken down into like Social Work, Order, Patriotism and many more. Your goal with these is to get every single option correct and if you do you will just earn yourself some money.
When you aren’t making your way through your daily quota of forms to fill out there are many quests to be completed in many different ways. One of your bosses wants to collect all the bribes to take a cut from what is meant to go to the Government, do you do as your told or do you sell him out? A lot of people wont help you if they don’t trust you or don’t view you as having enough authority to aid you in any quests so they will actively leave you to die or on occasion through you in front of a bus to further themselves.
It is during these more investigation like stages where Beholder 2 took me a while to grasp as the controller layout is kinda of weird and never actually informs you of it plays. On the console versions of the game you use the left analogue stick to move the character and the right stick to activate a field of vision ring to point things out to click on though this can be a pain. There were many times in which I was trying to overhear what characters were talking about so I could manipulate them into doing what I want later on but instead of selecting the characters talking that I wanted to overhear the game would get fixated on searching a pot planet and never switching to the characters.
One key mechanic is time, every action you take will eat up time and you only get so much of it in a day. Filling out forms for example will take 2 hours to do 5 forms while a simple conversations may only take 15 or waiting in line for something can take up to an hour leaving you to decide what is important to achieve each day. After the work day is complete you get 3 hours at home to read books and learn new skills or maybe you just want to watch some TV to catch up on the latest shows so you have something to talk about with your co workers to gain their trust. Again it all costs time to accomplish. At the end of every day you also have to pay your bills through money earned filling out forms but you also need to keep enough money to pay for the TV shows you want to watch and bribe any guards who may want to make your day not so great. Decisions in this game are aplenty and are fully up to you to tackle however you wish.
The most striking aspect of Beholder is its art style which is all down in a cool black and white noir aesthetic with occasion streaks of red and brown to remind you of its setting. I really do love this art style but I found it would give me a headache as the whites are very bright and pronounced which took away from the enjoyment of playing the game. The settings in the game don’t vary much with each a reminder that you are being ruled over with statues and busts of the overlord all over the place and general prison feel built into each environment, even when you are out doors.
At the end of the day Beholder is really good game the demands time and thought be poured into it over multiple playthroughs. I was expecting the office job and paper filling out aspects of the game to be a bore but instead they won me over and left me constantly debating with myself over what actions are going to be the best. If you like a game that has a more slowburn approach to provide you with just as much style as substance then Beholder 2 is definitely one you should be checking out.
Zombie played a review copy of Beholder 2 on the Playstation 4.