Beholder is watching

This article was originally posted in Chinese in G-cores community

Dystopia, it is a world that differs from the utopian world created by Thomas Morr, it is the opposite of a beautiful and peaceful world, gathering every concern of the modern society in it.

In literature, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, We by Zamyatin Evgeny, these three books have been seen as the trilogy of dystopia. But not like Brave New World and We, Nineteen Eighty-Four has a strong sense of history and politics, and we can find that nowadays similar things are still happening in the very society we living in.

On September 11, 2017, The Handmaid’s Tale, this a series of episodes with a strong sense of dystopian, has won five Emmy Awards. The audiences and consumers in Europe and America seem to be more and more friendly to the dystopian theme, this makes the cultural products with such theme are increasingly favored by critics and consumers, and of course, better sales on the market.

And this remains me of the same type of game, “Beholder“, which was released on the Steam platform last November.


Image result for beholder
Judging by the look, very dystopian!


This game is produced by the Russian independent studio Warm Lamp Games, as a game studio, it is still young to many players. The emergence of “Beholder” suddenly attracted the attention of a large number of players. As a Russian game studio, the national history they have is very complex, and this gave them a greater say in this topic. There is such a joke (very old one):

One Englishman, one Frenchman, and one Sovietman chatting together.

The English guy said: The happiest thing is that after a long day in the winter, going home in the evening, wearing wool trousers sitting in the front of the fireplace, the wife and child next to you, telling you about everything that happened in the daytime, oh, and there should also be a hot apple pie!

The Frenchman: You English people are old-fashioned. The happiest thing is, of course, to get a blonde on an airplane. Then we go on a vacation in the Mediterranean. Enjoying the sunlight and sea in the daytime and having sex in the nighttime, after all of this, we say goodbye to each other and never call again.

The Soviets: The happiest thing is the KGB who knocked at the door in the middle of the night. While you open the door, the KGB agent says: “Ivan, you were arrested for crimes against the state”, and you say: “Sorry sir, Ivan is next door”.


The word “beholder” means that the “bystanders”, “the viewers”. Those who have played “Heroes of Might and Magic 3” might remember a monster which has eyeballs all over the body, and it is also called Beholder.

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So this word is based on the meaning of eyes and eyesight. In the game, beholder refers to the secret intelligence personnel, the protagonist Carl Stein, uses his own eyes or extended eyes to monitor the guests in his apartment.

The game is made in a horizontal version of the 2D model. The idea of the game is to complete the tasks of the superior while ensuring its own security and interact with other characters in exchange for certain benefits. Of course, there are many kinds of final story ending. Players can choose the action based on their own ideas.

Meanwhile, the player will be playing a role of a father and a husband, facing a difficult time of the family – will the youngest daughter die due to the lack of medicine? Not to mention that the son may go to join the anti-reaction activities and probably will be killed or sent to the far east for mining.

Those factors infuse some warmth for the game. Under the oppression of power, we can at least choose to protect what we love and care so that we will not work and obey like machines, this has greatly increased the playability of the game.

What is amazing to me in this game is the personal design. Every character has an all-black body. Only a pair of white eyes express the emotions of the character. Well, the representative decorations and characteristics of some figures are also outlined in white, but this is obviously not as important as the eyes.

White eyes, black body, such design makes each game character feel a sense of hollowness. They go to work by the sunrise every day, take a car back to the apartment on sunset, and their eyes remain the same.

Only after the violation of the so-called “laws” and got reported, endless sadness appear in those two holes.

The focus on eyes makes this game feels somewhat “heavy”. “Watching” becomes the first priority, it is more powerful than any language, better than any actions, making the player a real beholder, a watcher. Without any sign, just a pair of white eyes, reading the confusions of an employee in the tobacco company, the craziness in the anarchist’s mind, the great pain in the little girl’s eyes…

That makes this game amazing, the player needs to feel those emotions by their own heart. The process of feeling those emotions, sometimes I feel it is greater than the story in the game itself.


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