Beholder 2 is a grim, disturbing depiction of life in a totalitarian state that picks up where its predecessor left off.
Beholder 2 is the sequel to 2016's title about life in a totalitarian state. Developer Warm Lamp Games' unique strategy adventure put players in the shoes of protagonist Carl, a landlord appointed by the state to spy on his tenants by way of listening in on conversations, searching their belongings and otherwise invading their privacy.
This similarly gloomy follow-up introduces a newcomer named Evan, who finds in this title that his father has died – or perhaps he's been killed. It's improbable that he flung himself out of a window and to the ground from a high rise.
Either way, it's Evan's change after his father's passing to try and carry on his torch as part of the very safe government that likely took his life. Evan is faced with opportunities to climb his way up the corporate ladder in a ruthless, oppressive regime – without somehow invoking the ire of his employers and facing the very same fate his father did. The ultimate goal, however, is to deduce what sent his dad (a fairly respected societal figure) to his grave in the first place.
As such, instead of spying on tenants for the state like Carl did in the first game, Evan has to work for them directly in the jungle of the corporate world. As players will quickly find, Beholder 2 is filled with plenty of decidedly unprofessional and even immoral individuals, who do just about whatever they want whenever they want. Evan's coworkers drink at the job, participate in orgies, and engage in all sorts of debauchery. Evan must essentially be their whipping boy and complete their work for them.
Doing others' jobs will make Evan's easier, as he can earn plenty of reputation points and money to help work his way up to the top. It may not be the most glamorous way to make a living, but that it does – and Evan has plenty of bills he has to pay to make sure his family stays afloat. It's up to players to decide how they want to go about making enough cash each check to get by, but none of it is particularly savory – that's just kind of how it goes in the Beholder universe, after all.
Between collecting reputation and cash, Evan can also snoop around in coworkers' desks, file cabinets, and even bushes in the workplace. He can find items that will eventually assist in opening up new conversation paths with other characters. Eavesdropping is also a useful tool to expand the dialogue branches, which in turn will help Evan make powerful alliances and friends (or enemies to backstab.) Earn enough reputation points, and Evan will be promoted. Get enough promotions, and well, Evan may very well find what killed his father.
Beholder 2 may sound painfully un-fun, like some sort of daily life simulator for some individuals forced to join the corporate workforce. But it's surprisingly enjoyable, especially because it requires a high amount of strategic planning and cunning to conquer. For those who love to scheme just as much as they do deciphering others' actions and conversations, it's a hefty dose of fun.
The monochromatic visuals communicate a dystopian, nightmarish world quite nicely. The 3D models are a nice step up from the original game's 2D look as well, and the aesthetic is just as dreary as you'd expect. There are no bright lights to be found in a world as far gone as this, and the graphics make that very clear. This is about as drab of an existence as there is, and Evan obviously hates what he's forced to do to make a living, and the game makes this extremely obvious.
Beholder 2 is all about looking out for number one – Evan – all the while pretending to be interested or concerned with the despicable people around him who are part of the State. It's an addictive, well-paced game that feels exciting because of all the selfish acts everyone is committing, and the thought of "infiltrating" the government to get through to the truth. For anyone who enjoyed the original game, this second twist on the formula is well worth experiencing.
Beholder 2 is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A digital PlayStation 4 code was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.