The Stanley Parable Review

The Stanley Parable Featured

The Stanley Parable Boxart

Developer: Galactic Cafe
Publisher: Galactic Cafe
Platform: PC – Steam

The Stanley Parable began as a Source mod in 2011. It gained attention, fans, and left a lasting impression on those who played it. Enough so, it seems, to have its remastered version break through the moderately unfair gates of Steam Greenlight. Now on Steam, what was previously known as The Stanley Parable: HD Remix is ready to confuse many new players.

Having only played the recent demo, I was mostly unaware of what to expect. Upon starting the game, you play as a character addressed only as Stanley. Stanley works at a monotonous job where he simply types what he is told for hours at a time. As the game begins, he becomes conscious to find the office entirely empty. As he searches further, he realizes that there is no one to be found anywhere. Well, unless you count the omnipresent commentator who is narrating all of Stanley’s actions.

It’s possible to beat the game after 20 minutes or so, but to leave it at that is to sorely miss the point. Try it again. After all, the loading screen at some points states how the end is not the end. Things change, and things stay the same, but overall things evolve in ways that gamers are likely not accustomed to. This is fun and even a little bit frightening at times. What choices change things and what are meaningless? It’s a joy to test everything out and advance tweaked narratives.

The Stanley Parable Featured

Obviously, the content of these replays is best seen on your own. Much of the fun for me playing was hearing the narrator basically make fun of the precepts of gaming. We see a lot of talk about choice (or rather, the illusion of it) in modern video games. Developers wax about how impactful these choices are but deep down we all know they rarely lead to anything interesting. Knowing that choice is a constructed mechanic in games, and referencing it as such, The Stanley Parable is still able to create an experience wholly unique in the gaming medium.

There’s some people who will definitely dislike what is offered here, but if you have any inkling of interesting in gaming beyond taking everything at face value then discovering all of The Stanley Parable’s secrets could become a temporary obsession. It already has for me, as my time has been spent replaying the same old situations, hoping to jump into something far more fascinating. Sometimes it happens and other times the same exact story is retold. What will frustrate some has captivated me and soon may ensnare many other players as well.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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