Closer to static fiction than a game, but still a masterfully done work, Exhibition tells the story of an artist through four people--his wife, a critic, a boy, and a student--exploring the gallery where his paintings are hanging, shortly after he's committed suicide. You play all of the characters; you can switch back and forth between them whenever you want, and the way you go through the story--whether you view all of the paintings as one character before you go on to the next character, or view one painting as all four characters, or some combination--is likely to affect how you experience the story, since the various takes on the artist have very little in common. The writing is terrific; each of the characters has a distinctive voice, and what they say about the artist illuminates them as much as it does the artist. The major drawback, however, is that the interactivity aspect is minimal; there's very little to do other than look at each painting through each set of eyes, meaning that the story doesn't really have any sort of pace; if the player finds the whole thing somewhat distancing, as some have, that may be why. Still, it's an intriguing experiment. There's background music as well--Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," natch--though some have elected to turn it off, since it does get repetitive after a while.
Reviewed by Duncan Stevens (22 Jul 2000)