What were to happen if you mixed Papers, Please, This War of Mine and Fallout Shelter? You’d probably get a random pile of broken code and ill-fitting assets. But if someone were to take ideas and inspiration from those games, they might end up with Beholder by Warm Lamp Games.
Beholder is, according to the description, a “simulation of the life of an ordinary human being at the frightening dystopian World where the State controls every aspect of private and social life.” The pitch video is a trailer setting up the feel of the game. A little girl’s ball knocks over a man’s can of paint, but he’s not doing his civic duty of making the world a better looking place. He committed the heinous crime of writing “Freedom” on a government poster, causing the girl to rat him out, causing the painter to be thrown in jail.
Games about an evil, totalitarian state are popular these days with games like the aforementioned Papers, Please as well as other Kickstarter games like Mainlining and Republique. It’s perhaps a sign of the times. But unlike those games, Warm Lamp Games is based in Russia (Siberia, no less) a country with a spotty history when it comes to human rights to say the least. It will no doubt be interesting to see this kind of game from the perspective of someone who’s more used to that kind of situation, to put it diplomatically.
As for the game itself, you play the landlord of some kind of apartment complex, and as part of your job, you have to spy on your tenants. Any and all anti-government activity from building bombs to someone stating they don’t like the Dear Leader must be reported, or you’ll risk being tried for harboring terrorists. It’s not that simple though. You’ll have the option to allow people to do whatever they want without reporting it, blackmail your tenants for your silence, or join in on the anti-government fun. This is risky of course, as you can be caught at any minute.
Beholder is the typical kind of game you’d expect to find on Kickstarter. The game itself is a niche looking project and it carries heavy themes that are growing popular on Kickstarter. At the same time, the page isn’t well laid out. There’s plenty of screenshots, art, and gameplay, but the English and grammar are terrible. Warm Lamp Games doesn’t go into much detail about who they are other than to say they have experience in game development, and it’s not entirely clear what they need the money for.
What’s also not clear is the gameplay. Several mechanics are listed like the ability to read mail, peak through key holes, bribes, blackmail, and a black market. However, it’s not stated what the goal of the game is. It’s hard to see how all these different elements come together in the game, especially since the gameplay trailer is so heavily edited to show off these features individually rather than the flow of a usual gameplay session.
There’s definitely promise here, but Beholder is a great example of how a well-run campaign can look mediocre via a few simple mistakes. If they clean up the translation, add some more detail about the gameplay, who they are, and what the money is for this could be a truly great campaign. As it is now, it’s only another promising, but flawed dystopian Kickstarter game. I hope Warm Lamp can address these issues, and if they do, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Track the progress of the Beholder Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.