Your name is Stanley, and you are employee #427 in some enormous corporate conglomerate of unknown name and origin, that seems to control most aspects of your life. Your job is the push the buttons that your monitor tells you to, and you’ve never had any qualms or complaints about it.
But one day, the instructions from your monitor come to a halt, and you find that you are the only living soul in your previously bustling office complex. You decide to leave your post and investigate.
I’m not gonna lie, The Stanley Parable is a game that I can’t really say much about without diminishing the experience. The original Half-Life 2 mod was released a few years ago by Davey Wreden, and the “HD Remix” (which both looks far better thanks to the work of William Pugh, and expands significantly on the original), has won a host of awards and firmly wedged itself into the #1 selling spot on Steam, where it’s been sitting for a few days now.
It is a game of choices. If you want one image that symbolizes the experience, this is as good as any:
The narration of voice-over artists Kevan Brighting guides you through a beautifully crafted interactive story that pokes fun relentlessly at the typical faults of video game story-telling. How many times has a protagonist made choices you wouldn’t have, or ended up at the same outcome regardless of what you did? Have you ever felt a lack of genuine interactivity in big-title interactive media? This game’s for you.
But I’m not doing it justice here. This game’s packed to the brim with humor and wit, and it will catch you off-guard even if you’re expecting it to. The only reason I describe it so tamely is because I don’t want to ruin anything; it’s best to go into this blind.
Unless you’ve somehow managed to develop an unquenchable hatred for games, humor, and British-accented narration, but the time you’re five minutes into this game you’ll have a huge grin on your face and feel absolutely giddy. It’s not a long game, but personally I’ve been exploring it for hours and continually finding new ways to interact with it.
My only complaint is that you can’t jump. This isn’t just because I love jumping, but also because jumping is one of the most typical ways to get to places that you’re not supposed to be in and exploit games, and I expected Wreden to play on this at least somewhat. I suppose it’s excusable — that would change the mechanics entirely from the original mod and present a whole other development challenge. At one place where I was particularly tempted to jump, it even gave me a cheevo for trying.
Anyway, this game’s definitely worth your $12 (it’s 20% off until Oct. 23rd). Probably one of the most satisfying game or game-related purchases I’ve made this year. It’s a bit reminiscent of Portal and Antichamber in terms of the narration style and humor respectively, but despite featuring no real “puzzles” and giving you virtually only the ability to walk and push buttons, The Stanley Parable doesn’t disappoint in terms of engagement either.
All I really have to say is “thank you, Davey & friends, for this game.”