This is going to be a bit of an odd post.
Steam was having a sale on horror or otherwise dark games for Haloween, and I spotted a trailer for a game that ended up costing me around $5 with the expansion, that looked interesting, called Beholder.
Imagine if you were the protagonist in the German film, The Lives of Others. You spy at keyholes, set up cameras, break into apartments, steal stuff, or not, as the “apartment manager” who’s real job is to spy on the residents as part of the secret police running a totalitarian state.
It’s not a review – I haven’t played it yet, but I’ve turned in a drug dealer, tried to get antibiotics for my daughter, and been hauled off, with my family likely not surviving the year as unpersons, for failing to report a drug dealer in time. I’ve pissed off a black market dealing sailor, not gotten murdered by the residents yet, and have been trying to help the residents of one apartment get out of town safely instead of evicted into the street.
It’s not as much a sandbox as one may wish, but nevertheless there’s a dark Sims-like quality to the people as they go about their lives, and as more and more directives come in for what is and is not allowed.
It is not a surprise to me that the studio making this game comes out of Russia. Nor that eastern Europe and Russia, the countries that have dealt most devastatingly with totalitarian soul-crushing regimes, instead of the imaginary fantasy of such existing here, are the least inclined to give up their culture to outsiders, and have a cultural memory of just how horrible tyranny is.