The Beginner's Guide (PC) Review: A lesson in human nature

The Beginner's GuideReviewed on PC

The Beginner’s Guide

Reviewed on PC
Available on PC
Released on October 1st, 2015
MSRP: $9.99

When you hear the co-creator of Stanley Parable is creating a brand new game, you know you’re in for a doozy of a ride. Created without the help of his co-creator, Davey Wreden had announced and promptly released The Beginner’s Guide. This is a game that he narrates as himself and leads the player on a journey about himself, his friend Coda and game development.

While I enjoyed Stanley Parable, I didn’t truly find interest in playing another interactive story. After the storm that had been whipped up over this game from friends and other notable critics, I’ve figured I just had to understand what exactly is causing this unanimous level of praise.

Hearing friends say ‘you need to play this’ or ‘it’s hard to explain’ is interesting enough, but I wanted to come in cynical. I wanted to get into this game completely blind and skeptical that it’d change my mind. Yet, I wanted to remain open minded to what would be presented to me.

And so I started the game. In it, I was introduced to Coda, a friend of Davey who created a lot of little games. Davey is showing off his games in order to reach out to Coda to get back into it and create those interesting games that made Davey so happy to see.

As you make your way through the various games that Coda made, you’ll start seeing a change. You’ll get to see who Coda and Davey really are on an emotional level. The powerful narrations by Davey made the experience a lot more personal.

By the time the revelation in this game occurs, you’ll come to realize that the sequences of the game beforehand had a strong purpose and yet didn’t have a purpose at all.

When you get to the end, you’ll either connect with the story presented, or you’ll brush it off and continue on with nothing gained or lost. This is where the magic of the game begins.

After playing The Beginner’s Guide, I had to sit down for a good half an hour to recollect my thoughts about what I had experienced. The message that Davey had presented through this game becomes a commentary on human life, how we live our lives and the desires within our lives. It is then that after you’ve played it and reflected upon how it applies to your own life, you start realizing that the message Davey had made applied not just for us the player, but for himself as well.

I’ve been so vague in this review admittedly. It’s difficult as a reviewer to explain a game like this without going straight into spoiling the game. It’s tough to justify purchasing this game because of that. What it boils down to however, is that this game has a great message that when it resounds within the player, will reverberate to the core. If it doesn’t, and the ‘walking simulator’ aspect of the game doesn’t interest people, then it’ll be hard to get that.

It’s an extremely short game, the completion time is on average 90 minutes. As of writing this review, The Beginner’s Guide is on sale for $7.99 USD on Steam. I honestly believe if you pick up this game and end up not enjoying it, there’s no harm in refunding it. If you do however, I would say keep the game in your library as a reminder to what Davey wanted to teach all of us, especially himself.

I’ve been struggling so hard to put into words whether or not I loved this game. It has this deep-seated depth that I feel is tangible at some points and intangible at others. I wanted to think that this game was pretentious and yet had a humble message. There was something in this game that conflicted with my beliefs and thoughts. The Beginner’s Guide was an amazing experience that I’m still not sure I wanted. It made me feel uncomfortable and I enjoyed that. It made me think about aspects of my life and about how I should live. To say that this changed my life might be too much of an overstatement, but I feel like I developed a bit from the incredible message that Davey presented.

When I had beaten the game, apart from trying to recover from relating to the experience presented, I had to get some context. I recommend looking at these links here if you ever do decide to get and play through the game. Things start to click and the purpose for The Beginner’s Guide becomes a lot more clearer. I can only honestly say one thing to Davey:

Thank you so much Davey and have a great break.

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