Beholder: Blissful Sleep

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Beholder: Blissful Sleep Game Poster Image
Prequel strategy has more moral choice, little new content.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Level of positivity depends on player's decisions when faced with moral choice. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters are good, some are bad. Players can choose what they want to be.

Ease of Play

Basic mechanics aren't difficult; timers, obscure puzzle solutions make things challenging.

Violence

People are arrested, beaten; there's one grotesque bloody death.

Sex

There's mention of an artist, his live-in mistress. 

Language

Very rare occurrence of the word "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters shown secretly drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, taking drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beholder: Blissful Sleep is a downloadable expansion of indie strategy game Beholder, and requires the base game in order to play it. It features mature themes involving police brutality, suicide, drug and alcohol use, crime, and political oppression, as well as complex moral questions involving loyalty and betrayal. The dialogue contains the occasional curse word, like "s--t," and characters are seen drinking, doing drugs, and being beaten and arrested by police. Minimal blood is shown. There's also a mention of a character's live-in mistress, but otherwise, no sexual content is included.

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What's it about?

BEHOLDER: BLISSFUL SLEEP functions as a prequel to its base game, Beholder, and tells the story of Hector Medina, the first apartment building manager (the poor schmo being arrested at the start of Beholder). While the base game's focus was spying on tenants and deciding whether or not to report their activities to the authorities, Blissful Sleep focuses on a euphemistically named government policy that dictates citizens be exterminated once they turn 85. Gameplay still involves talking to and spying on tenants, but from the moment Hector receives his notice, that takes a back seat to trying not to die.  

Is it any good?

This prequel features the same mix of cynicism and black humor as Beholder, but gameplay changes add little new content to this tale. The spying aspect is de-emphasized here, and gameplay is structured so that talking to people is more important than watching them. Rarely are you required to gather information on anyone, so your role as government stooge is seriously downplayed. Because of this, the tenant melodrama is harder to focus on. Much as you might want to help people, it's hard to find time when you're mere days away from being dragged to that big government waiting room in the sky. As a result, you're bound to fail a lot of timed missions and cause a lot of people a lot of suffering. If you have any compassion at all, that's not easy to face. Difficult moral choices still abound: Do I help a family avoid persecution or turn them in? Do I make money selling bootleg medicine, even if it makes people sick? The ending changes according to those choices. Though the expansion seems free of the base game's technical issues, the timer aspect combined with obscure mission solutions often makes it feel like you're fighting a losing battle. That, along with minimal new content, makes Beholder: Blissful Sleep feel less like a meaningful expansion and more like a slightly modified version of the base game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the morality of government. Does might always make right? 

  • Discuss what you'd do if a friend or neighbor was being persecuted. Would you step in, or would you protect yourself? Why?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $3.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Alawar Entertainment
  • Release date: May 18, 2017
  • Genre: Strategy
  • ESRB rating: T for Cartoon Violence, Blood, References to Drugs and Alcohol, Crude Humor

For kids who love strategy

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