The Beginner’s Guide comes from the creator of The Stanley Parable, arguably the most popular narrative “walking simulator” type games ever made – and for good reason – but this is not The Stanley Parable. The Beginner’s Guide is something different, very different, and, depending on how you view it, may even be something better.
Whilst The Stanley Parable was all about choices: the impacts of choices; why we make them; what a choice truly means and whether you can ever truly have a choice, The Beginner’s Guide is a deep and though-provoking exploration of human nature.
The game initially presents itself as a character study, with a the developer (who acts as the narrator) tells you about a friend of his. This friend, named Coda, is also a fellow developer and you are then taken through a series of small “games” made by Coda. All the while, the narrator tells you what these little games mean to him and how they reflect on Coda’s personality as well as the events occurring in his life at the time of their creation.
As the game progresses you form more and more of a picture of what Coda was really like; his emotions, his tastes, what he enjoyed, how he found happiness or how he dealt with sadness. Without giving away too much of the plot, the ending will really make you reconsider what you’ve been lead to believe throughout the course of the game and acts in some way as a commentary on art and our collective societal attitude towards art as something that must require an explanation.
Gameplay wise, The Beginner’s Guide is a walking simulator in its truest form. The most gameplay found here is the pressing of the “W” key to walk and occasionally the “E” key to interact. It should also be noted that The Beginner’s Guide is extremely short, the whole experience lasting little over an hour.
Although brief it is intelligent and incredibly poignant, The Beginner’s Guide is less a game and more of an artistic and narrative experience – and as such should be approached as one. It is a beautiful experience from start to finish, and one that, for fans of the “walking simulator” genre, would be greatly unwise to forgo.