The Beginner’s Guide is a peculiar project. In a nutshell, it’s a collection of small games and game concepts by a developer known as Coda, with an accompanying narration from the collection’s curator Davey Wreden. It has higher aspirations than merely being an anthology, however, as the voiceover presents a story about the narrator’s relationship to both the games being presented and the developer of those games.
This metanarrative touches on several worthwhile topics, including the interpretation of games (and art generally), the potential satisfaction or dissatisfaction of game development (and creativity generally), and what any art object may or may not be able to say about the creator of that art object. Along these lines, The Beginner’s Guide is deserving of some praise. It dares to push the envelope of what a game can be, and it does so in an experimental way that has proved fruitful in other media, especially in the past 200 years of literature and across most of the history of film.
But along essentially the same lines, the game is worthy of criticism as well. I have no way of expressing even the heading under which that criticism falls, however, without spoiling or even potentially ruining the experience of the game. So I’ll just spit out my usual warning, and then we’ll dig in: the nature of this article is such that it requires spoiling the plot of The Beginner’s Guide, so you should only continue reading after this paragraph if you either do not mind spoilers or you have already played the game.
The Intermediate’s Guide: