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9 people found the following review helpful:
Ode to Joy, September 25, 2010
Being There sounds like it will be an interactive adaptation of a Jerzy Kosinski novel; failing that, an exploration of Martin Heidegger's concept of Dasein. It is neither. This piece is an Ode to Joy.
Joy, the joy of living, the joy of experiencing and acting -- that is what this game is about. It takes you through a series of tranquil scenes accompanied by beautiful photographs, and then it lets you play in them. You can look and touch and taste; you can dance and jump and sing; you can climb and swim and in fact fly into the air whenever you wish. You can lie down and sleep. No duties, no responsibilities, no cares -- enjoyment is everything.
This is a game where when you see a soccer goal, you can type "play soccer" and the game responds with: "You play soccer with an invisible ball... you score!" How cool is that?
I hope it is clear from the previous paragraphs that I absolutely disagree with previous reviewers and commentators about the need to add a story, or puzzles, or a statement about Korea, to this game. Doing any of those things would destroy that which makes Being There special and strangely exhilarating: its celebration of free play. (Which is also why I do call the piece a game, even though the author does not.)
The length of the game is excellent, giving you enough time to explore and then, when tedium threatens to set in, rapidly moving things towards a close -- a close which also serves as an antidote to what might otherwise have been an over-abundance of carefreeness, without falling into the opposite trap of falsifying the game's positive message.
Are there no complaints? Well, certainly: even though there are many things you can do, you will still encounter standard library messages and actions that are refused. While this doesn't matter in a traditional game, a piece that celebrates freedom and experience is hampered by it. I hope that the author will continue to update the game as people keep sending in requests for more actions and responses -- I know that I have just sent in mine.
7 people found the following review helpful:
A touching travelogue, August 28, 2010
"Being There" is a love letter to Korea. Magnuson clearly has great affection for his subject, and does his best to transmit it to the player. Each location is associated with a photograph, and at each place the game suggests some things to try. There are no right or wrong answers here - this is, as Magnuson calls it, a "notgame".
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There are a few places where the interactivity works against the text - in particular, I'm thinking of one location where I spent at least 8 or 9 turns trapped in a pot of kimchi. But one doesn't want to be churlish. Being There, while not deeply involving for the casual drive-by player, is still charming, and worth trying.