The Stanley Parable
“All of his co-workers were gone, what could it mean? Stanley had decided to go to the meeting room, perhaps he had missed a memo.” These are the first words you’ll hear and ironically, you’ll be hearing them more than once. “The Stanley Parable”, an adventure game that is unlike any other I’ve experienced, is rather difficult to explain. You’ll take on the role of Stanley, and while your adventure begins the same every time, your choices will determine how the story ends. Think of it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, something that you kids of the eighties and nineties can relate to. It also bears a resemblance to “Portal” and “Anti-Chamber”, but without the mind-bending puzzles and with heavier emphasis on the narrative. Before we explore the game any further, I’d like to quickly thank Davey Wreden from Galactic Cafe for providing me with a free press copy.
The main menu allows the user to begin the game and adjust game options. In the options menu, players will find your usual settings and then some. You’ll be able to adjust screen resolution, fullscreen, overlay position, field of vision, keybinds, mouse settings, and a few extras that I’ll let you discover for yourself. The controls aren’t all that complicated in that you’ll be moving around, pressing a button to interact, and ducking. Yes, that’s really the extent of it…it’s an adventure, not a first-person shooter. For those of you who are curious about multiplayer, you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that this is purely a single player experience…oh but what an experience it is!
You’ll begin your experience from your little office inside an office building, but it doesn’t take long before you find out that all isn’t what it seems. You see, “The Stanley Parable” isn’t so much of a game as it is a web of different storylines. There will come a point throughout your travels where you’ll forced to make a choice. You’ll experience a different ending, depending on the choices you make. While I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing them all, some have reported a total of about twenty endings, give or take. Each of the narratives I experienced lasted ten to twenty minutes, on average. Yes, you read that right…it won’t take long to reach an ending, but you’re free to go back and try a different route to see what other mysteries lie before you.
The game itself, I found, seems to pride itself on being cryptic and humorous at the same time. While you’re going about your business, choosing different paths and the like, a narrator will be commentating in a not so usual way. It reminded me of the narrator in “Bastion” in that he directly responded to my actions within the environment. When I got sidetracked by a broom closet, for example, he made a note to both report and chastise what I was doing. While this narrator does tell a story and direct you on where you should be going, you’re free to go off on tangents as you see fit. In one instance, I was directed to go through a particular door but chose to do something completely different. I purposely ignored everything the narrator was telling me to do, resulting in him losing his patience exponentially. Call me a rebel, but I was having too much fun.
Interestingly enough, “The Stanley Parable” has actually been around for a few years. It started as a mod on the Source engine and was eventually remade to become its very own entity. Admittedly, this is the first I’ve heard of it…though I’m not sure how I lived without having ever played it. Along those lines, “The Stanley Parable” is pure genius, wrapped up in a humor-filled blanket that I refuse to take off anytime soon. An individual storyline doesn’t take long to complete, so you’ll be able to complete a few and come back to it the next day just to see what else you can find. I’ve made the reference before, but this truly is a great “Choose Your Own Adventure” story that you won’t want to play just once. Easily worth the $14.99 price tag, in my opinion. There’s a free demo should you wish to try before you buy, but I’ve found it to be a separate gem of its own containing content that I didn’t see in the regular game. It’s definitely worth a look, even if you already plan to purchase the game.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “The Stanley Parable” by visiting the following websites: