Repost, The Stanley Parable review

Original posted by [AReV]BavarianGod

The Stanley Parable began life as a mod for Half Life 2 and was recently updated and released on steam with achievements, more story branches and shiny new visuals. It places players in the mundane shoes of Stanley, a common desk jockey who is placed in an office in front of a computer where he punches buttons for a living. One day, his monitor goes blank and the other corporate drones that he shares the office building with disappear and so begin your Journey as Stanley. Being the dull chap whom he is, Stanley himself doesn’t offer many ions the area of entertainment, but a charming English narrator provides the personality and humor necessary to make The Stanley Parable an enjoyable experience. The narrator provides players with instructions, becoming almost like a GPS device that has been confused by itself for a raconteur.

Where most games are about following the rules, The Stanley Parable is best enjoyed when breaking them. If the narrator says to go right, you will certainly find more satisfaction in taking a left and listening as the narrator’s knickers became twisted by your wanton disobedience. By taking these divergent paths you will find yourself faced with one of the game’s 15 different conclusions. Each conclusion revels something a bit unusual about Stanley, and they range from conspiratorial to surreal. The game plays a few tricks on you by repeating rooms endlessly or swapping out props on the fly truing an office into an apartment space. All of this is rendered in a simple and clean visual style. The color palette is muted to reflect just what a dull and miserable existence our pal Stanley has and the props are equally generic creating an appropriately stodgy atmosphere. As advertised the texture work adds far more detail than could be found in the original mod and overall the HD remix has much greater visual appeal.

So is The Stanley Parable a biting satire on the way in which modern games tell their story by allowing us to control a character on a predetermined path where deviation is punished? Is it a parody of the life of the average key punching office drone? Or, is it just an excuse to have a rather cheeky British man tell us what to do? The answer is that it’s all of these… and none of them. It’s a game that will give each of its players a different take away. Each play through lasts between 15 minutes and a half hour. This doesn’t sound like a lot of playtime, and it isn’t but there is a tremendous degree of satisfaction in finding new ways to get the game to react to what you are or, in some cases, are not doing. Seeing all 15 endings without consulting a guide will probably take around three hours. These 15 endings are not Mass Effect 3 style endings either—they are wholly unique and there are a couple of treats for gamers to be uncovered. Ultimately, The Stanley Parable will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it holds a very special spot in the gaming landscape. It’s a testament to satire and unconventional design as well as manipulating gamer’s expectations. In short, it’s the antithesis of its key punching dullard protagonist.