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Video Game / Beholder 2

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All hail the Wise Leader!

In the sequel to Beholder you are Evan Redgrave, the estranged son of Caleb Redgrave, one of the big shots at the Ministry of the Great State, who ended up having an accident on 37th floor of the Ministry building just a few days prior. As you arrive to your first work day, you're greeted by a well-mannered gentleman named George Hemnitz who will introduce you to your new position, and give you the first piece of a trail of clues that lead to your father's legacy, especially his final work: Project Heimdall.

Soon afterwards, you will be dragged into a power struggle at the very core of the Great State, with major players making their moves from the shadows, with their own ambitions and agendas trying to influence you, while the colleagues on your level will all be dealing with some sort of personal struggle such a high-stress environment does little to help with.

As you set on the path to higher floors, more power, and the truth about your father's Magnum Opus, will you help those you meet along the way, or will you become just another ruthless upstart who doesn't shy away from treachery in his ambition to make it to the very top, perhaps even usurping the Wise Leader himself?

Like its predecessor, this game draws heavily from works such as Papers, Please, or This War of Mine, but the building management aspect has been replaced by a job at the very center of Great State bureaucracy. With the bills you need to pay and authority you need to gather within the Ministry to advance in the ranks, the path to the top won't be a cakewalk. A sequel, Beholder 3, was released on March 3, 2022.

This game provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Deconstructed in two different ways, see Multiple Endings for more details.
  • Asshole Victim: Nobody will miss Marco Legrand if you arrange for his execution. Floor bosses count, too.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Between having to pay your bills, keep the hounds off your back, and dealing with requests from mundane to outrageously absurd, you'll be lucky to keep your sanity.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Inner Circle, consisting of Pete Ferguson, Albert DeSalvo, Issac Weinman, and George Hemnitz, are the true leaders of the dystopia who are plotting against each other to seize total control.
  • Book Ends: In one of the endings, you meet the same fate as your father. From the same window.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': If you steal from your colleagues, you'll be searched and fined at the checkpoint even if you hid the items inside the Ministry. Except for the first time when the guards will let you off because you're new. Of course, if you are willing to avoid the official channels, the guards will be willing to give you a discount, provided the money stays in their pockets.
  • The Chosen One: Evan is chosen by virtue of remaining the only person alive who possesses DNA that allows for access to Project Heimdall.
  • Doomed by Canon: Fate has not been kind to the Stein family from the first game. You can make it even worse for Carl himself, and the others did not survive until this game.
  • Glorious Leader: Subverted. The Wise Leader is nothing more than an old actor whom the Inner Circle forcefully keeps alive in order to use his talent and appearance for propaganda videos. He's so weary of it all that he asks you to kill him when you finally meet. You can refuse.
  • Good with Numbers: George Hemnitz.
  • Mad Scientist: Isaac Weinberg. The man is working to replace every living person with a clone, and then kill himself in the end to leave the world to the clones entirely. Albert DeSalvo in a much, much Bloodier and Gorier manner.
  • Mercy Kill: The Wise Leader begs you to give him one.
  • Multiple Endings: Ending spoilers follow, beware.
    • Spanner in the Works: Evan blows up the Heimdall relay towers, destroying the project for good. However, this changes nothing in how the State functions, the old elites are usurped by the new, and since Evan is no longer of use to them, he's forced at a gunpoint to throw himself out of the same window his father jumped out of.
    • Heroic Sacrifice: Evan shuts down Heimdall and makes it impossible to restart by destroying all existing DNA information that could be used for such a purpose - namely, himself. Like in the previous ending, this changes little in how the State carries on.
    • Bread and Circuses: Transferring Heimdall to Ferguson, Evan is instrumental in turning the State into a hive of indulgence, hedonism, and excess. Ferguson becomes the leader of the State, with Evan being his number two. Despite the hint of self-loathing on Evan's part, this is in fact one of the better endings, both for the State and for Evan.
    • Cold-Blooded Torture: Transferring Heimdall to DeSalvo, Evan helps push the State into an era of constant psychological torture. DeSalvo uses the relays to force the people into sporadic and crippling fits of terror just For the Evulz and For Science! Evan becomes fond of the practice, to the point of ending up an even more cruel bastard than DeSalvo himself - prompting him to eliminate Evan. Slowly and painfully.
    • Clones Are People, Too: Transfering Heimdall to Weinberg, Evan helps the mad scientist to replace the entire State's population with Carl clones, because apparently clones are better than people. And then the world...and then the conquest of the stars can begin. Weinberg and Evan commit suicide and are only remembered by the Carls as their god and his prophet.
    • Curb-Stomp Battle: Transferring Heimdall to Hemnitz, it's a curb stomp without the battle. Hemnitz uses Heimdall to force every citizen of the State to line up for euthanasia centers, and then South Borea, the neighboring nation, simply marches in and loots the place now that nobody lives there anymore anyway. Evan is executed.
    • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Gone Horribly Right. At first, it turns out that people have very different ideas on what "The Greater Good" should be, so it causes plenty of civil violence. When the dust settles, the people do start working for a common "Greater Good", but they're so obsessed with it that they forget about their own biological needs, and the State becomes a massive ghost town only weeks after.
    • A God Am I: Evan simply uses Heimdall to be worshiped by the people. It's Lonely at the Top, and he wonders if that's an acceptable price for becoming a god.
    • Golden Ending: Requiring the player to find all Heimdall codes before ascending to floor 37, this ending has Evan use the relays to forcefully break the people out of the shackles of obedience imposed on them by the State so far, by forcing free will onto everyone. It's not an idyllic flowers-and-sunshine ending, but now that the people are free, the situation is finally hopeful again.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: The Wise Leader looks like Joseph Stalin. Considering the setting, it's fitting.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Your job. According to Hemnitz, when people come to you with appeals, you are supposed to process them correctly. Whether or not that helps them is not your problem. Once you advance to a higher floor you start dealing with the forms you printed out on your starting job, you are outright told that "Instructions are massively more important than common sense, comrade!"
  • So Proud of You: If you give the people free will as your final choice, you receive a message from Caleb stating that he's proud of you for having made the right choice.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Caleb Redgrave. He wasn't "accidented" to his death, he jumped out the window himself in order to make sure nobody except his son can access Project Heimdall. If you go through with the Golden Ending, the gambit pays off, but of course, you also have other options.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Who would have suspected Hemnitz to be behind the entire plot?
  • Vast Bureaucracy: There's a Ministry for everything, and they get established and abolished on a daily basis, so that it's impossible to keep up. At least the six most important ones never change.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can help out your colleagues which will make some of them voluntarily withdraw from the promotion rat race. Others will find different ways to repay the favor - not always in kind, though.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Or you can go out of your way to prank, mess with, torment, or cause severe and lasting harm to people. Most of the time the only thing punishing you will be your conscience.