A new game from the creator of The Stanley Parable, which was hilarious and at times, insightful. Surely this next effort is more of the same?
Davey Wreden’s first debut, The Stanley Parable, was great fun. An amusing tale, told through the eyes of Stanley, who, through the actions of the player, was never quite as obedient as that pesky narrator wanted him to be (Even more amusingly, the free demo of the Stanley Parable, is a separate experience, equally amusing in it’s own right).
Mr Wreden’s next release is quite different. It starts vaguely familiar – you’re in the first person perspective, and the game is once again narrated. Except this time, it’s Davey Wreden himself walking you through the levels.
But who designed these levels? The answer to that question, is Coda. Wreden is here, he explains, to show off the work of his friend. Coda makes some peculiar games, and he has a tendency to make them very quickly, finishing the general premise, and then moves on to the next big idea. Wreden surmises that perhaps the best way to get to know Coda, is not through conversation, but through his work. And so, our journey begins.
I needed to type this up as soon as I’d finished playing through the game – admittedly, the experience is short, at around 90 minutes of playtime. The game is interesting, in that instead of drawing us into a world a developer has created, we start to judge the developer – the man behind the code. The games themselves, such as they are, deal with a variety of themes, from depression, loneliness all the way up to euphoria. Occasionally, Coda revisits ideas, one puzzle in particular, and you’ll begin to build a picture of this man as you play through his many worlds.
I genuinely needed to take a moment at the end to recover my composure. I pride myself on plot predictions – I’m the guy who always sees the approaching twist – but what occurs is unexpected, and unsettling. As such, this review will be quite short, lest I ruin what intrigue remains.
I will say this – no game has ever evoked the emotions I felt while playing this. I’m not sure what means. I do know that The Beginner’s Guide is one of the most unique and creatively challenging ‘games’ I’ve ever played. Would I even call it a game? Perhaps not. Maybe a narrated diary? Whatever you want to define it as, It’s an expertly crafted personal tale told through a medium I adore. And it’s well worth the asking price. Go experience it for yourself.
(Note – I streamed my entire playthrough from start to finish on Twitch – you can watch it below – but really, only if you don’t have a PC or Mac to play this on. If you can afford the game, best be at the controls yourself)