A self-aware, yet likable video game
The Stanley Parable (Galactic Cafe, 2013) is the story of a man named Stanley, who one day realizes that the office he works in is suddenly completely empty. He then gets up, tries to search for his colleagues only to stand in front of two doors where he then has to make a choice.
Choice – That’s the core of the game.
Writing about The Stanley Parable without giving away what makes it special is a truly difficult task, especially because it is really dull on its surface. To start off, the adventure requires audiences to be familiar with both (first-person) video game mechanics of the early 2000s, as well as commonly used gaming narrative of the same period to be appreciated and understood. One’s interactions with the world are then purposely limited: Jumping has been deactivated and as a rule clicking on objects doesn’t do anything. Instead, the player appears to seemingly be forced to only walk around. The sole focus lying between what the game’s narrator says Stanley will do and whether or not the player follows these commands.
This sounds very boring, especially considering that the first playthrough took me around 15 minutes and then the story restarted from the beginning – and overall it takes around ≥ 2 hours to unearth all endings (, except for the one where players need to repeat a mundane task for four hours). It truly would be a dull affair, if it weren’t for the very strong, comedic writing presented by the narrator’s humorous tone and the leitmotif of choice.
With that in mind, I was going over multiple revisions on how to approach this review. After all, The Stanley Parable’s basically only mechanic is presenting players with one binary choice after another and humor is dependant on timing and context. Despite being convinced that a funny review would be the best choice, I find myself tied to earnestly discuss whether or not this game is worth your time and money. And the answer is somewhere between a “yes” and a “no”.
The main issue of this entry is replayability. As it is a very short game, being able to relive the experience in subsequent playthroughs is vital to justify a purchase. True, there are multiple endings and each one of them is memorable, but once an outcome has been discovered, the question stands if there’s a point in doing it all over again. If there were such a thing as video game rentals, this would definitely be a very good rental over the weekend, but with a base price of $14.99 USD or your local equivalent, it is debatable whether or not a purchase can be justified.
This game is a 7 button presses out of 10
Where to Get
The Stanley Parable is available as digital download on Steam for $14.99 USD or your local equivalent.
All screenshots taken by me during my playthrough.
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