Publisher: Galactic Cafe
Genre: Indie, Interactive Fiction
Do you feel that everyday is the same old routine: you get up, go to work, come home, play video games or watch TV, then go to bed and do it all again the next day? Have you ever once been somewhere alone and had an existential crisis? If you answered yes to any of these, you already have a lot in common with the main protagonist of the indie exploration title The Stanley Parable.
You are employee 427, better known as Stanley. All your life consists of is coming to work, waiting to be told to push buttons, then pushing the buttons. One day at the office, something very peculiar happens. Nothing was telling you what buttons to push and all the other employees have vanished. With the help of a witty narrator, you must make your way through the building to try and locate your fellow co-workers.
Spiritual Content: This may be up to the player, but some players theorize that the narrator in the game is God.
Violence: There is no gore, but one at some points you can fall to your death.
Language: Nothing too strong, maybe an occasional “Hell” or “damn.” There may be a few crude jokes here and there but nothing really bad.
Sexual Content: The narrator at one point mentions hookers.
Drug/Alcohol Use: You are possibly under the influence of a “mind control” drug. Drugs and drug money are mentioned by the narrator.
The Stanley Parable is played entirely through the first person view. There are no complicated controls to remember because all you can do in the game is walk and interact with a few items like doors and buttons. The game heavily depends on the narrative and the choices you make. The narrator will send you along a path to advance you through the game “how he wrote it.” You can listen to everything he says and beat the game, or you can ignore him and strut along your own path. Not every path is linear, and can branch into unique areas and have you discover different areas. Some paths will lead you happiness, some paths will lead you to a special room that you can play test the narrator’s hilarious game, and other paths will lead you to your demise. Most of the fun of this game is playing it over and over again and experiencing all of the possible outcomes each path can take you.
There’s no need to fret about playing the game a few times over and over again because the game is very short. There are a total of nineteen different possible endings you can accomplish, along with some Easter Eggs and hidden jokes to stumble upon as you play through.
Despite being developed on the aged Source engine, The Stanley Parable looks really nice graphic-wise. All the textures are clean and do not suffer any performance issues. The level design is laid out in a way that provokes you to not listen to the narrator and go your own way. Depending on the route taken on your playthrough,you will unlock one of the games multiple endings.
There are a lot of points of interest for you to see throughout your escapade,and a lot of humor intertwined within the atmosphere. Pretty soon you will end up spending less time wondering about what happened to your co-workers and spending more time exploring the building and figuring out what happens if you hang out in the janitor’s closet. Also, you may be tempted to head through a door with all of the arrows pointing at it, but proceed to go through another door instead. The freedom of choice and the consequences of your actions are the motivation for coming back, and this game excels at making you want to explore different areas on different playthroughs.
What really makes this game special is the narrative. The narrator’s voice acting performance in this game was nothing short of stellar. He made it feel like I was the one under mind control because I kept wanting to listen to him and come back to play again. This game is truly original because of its narrative and is worth picking up based on that alone.
The Stanley Parable takes an unprecedented concept and turned it into something huge. When I was playing the game, I actually felt like I was in Stanley’s shoes. The game gives you freedom and most of the fun is figuring out what happens if you listen and if you don’t listen. If you are any kind of gamer who wants to try something new, I recommend this title. It may be short, but the quality of time you spend with it makes it all worth getting.
The Bottom Line
The Stanley Parable is one of those special games that comes every so often. It brings a unique experience that keeps a player coming back for more and more. The game is very well put together, cleverly written and sure to bring a good time with a few laughs along the way.