Well hello good reader. Welcome to another weekly game review. Please settle in and get comfortable. This week I am going to look at an indie game titled "The Stanley Parable" that has been asking a simple question: "What is a game?" Wait, what? Oh I'm being told that isn't the question at all. The answer is "8." What? Oh. I guess it's time to move forward with the review. If you would kindly continue reading, we'll get underway.
In The Stanley Parable, you are Stanley. Stanley works at a large office building. His (and your) job involves pressing buttons on your computer keyboard as instructed on your computer screen. Today though, is different. You have been sitting at your computer waiting for instructions to pop up for the last hour and nothing has come. Sensing something might be wrong, you look out of your office and notice nobody is in any of the other offices. Maybe there was a meeting and you didn't get the memo.
And so begins Stanley's quest. Or is it Mission? Or maybe an Adventure.
Controls and Gameplay
The Stanley Parable is a first- person exploration game. It's definitely not a shooter, there are no guns. At least I haven't found any. Yet. Although there might have been a bomb. Controls are minimal; you are mostly limited to movement with occasional interaction that is handled with a simple mouse click.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics for The Stanley Parable include some the most realistic corporate offices I've ever seen.
The audio is very good. There is some light music occasionally and background office noises. The star though, is Kevan Brighting as the narrator. His performance is like a snarky version of Stephen Fry - only snarkier.
It's hard to do a review of The Stanley Parable. I don't want to give away anything that might spoil a player's enjoyment. Part of the reason I've written this review so oddly is because the game itself plays very oddly. It challenges what one thinks should be normal for a game. In some cases, the game wants you to attempt to break the rules. In other instances, it pleads with you to not continue. It breaks the fourth wall early and often with the narrator directly addressing you. The Stanley Parable does question what makes a game and in some ways questions why you would question it. On one level it's an art piece, yet on another it mocks itself.
It's not a game in the traditional sense at all. Creator Davey Wreden takes the idea of the player blindly following narration and turns it on its head. Not only does he let the player deviate from the story, but in a way encourages it. There are many different endings that the player can find depending solely on their actions in the game. Playing through them all can take some time, but ultimately it gives a sense of satisfaction to find them all.
The Stanley Parable is not an action game. But it is a puzzle wrapped in an adventure with a healthy dose of dry humor. It's a niche, but it fills it so well. I give The Staley Parable 4.75 out of 5.
If The Stanley Parable sounds interesting I highly encourage you to download and play the demo. The demo is like a standalone game unto itself with its own story.
For more information see the official The Stanley Parable website.