Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Tale of a Man Named Stanley - The Stanley Parable Review

The Tale of a Man Named Stanley - The Stanley Parable Review

By Owen Jones (World Champion at 'The Eight Game')

I’ve rewritten this review several times already; I just can’t find the words to describe The Stanley Parable. After all the drafts and redrafts, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably best not to even attempt to describe The Stanley Parable. It would not only put a strain on my limited abilities as a reviewer, but also it will ruin part of the magic that makes The Stanley Parable so special. Also I’m still not entirely certain what The Stanley Parable is, but I enjoyed it regardless.
Here’s a suitably confusing trailer:

The Stanley Parable is a game. Sort of. It’s also a comedy. Sort of. As you’ve probably learnt from the trailer, a dry and cynical, not to mention British, narrator will tell you the story of a man named Stanley. See, he’ll try to tell you a story, but as a player you make decisions that decide what story is told. For instance if you replay the game taking a different decision you don’t get a new ending or variant of a different of the same story, you effectively  get an entirely new playthrough.The decisions normally involve following the narrators 'plan' if you like, or choosing to defy him. 

Stanley is still confused by the never-ending main menu

The game not only makes fun of itself, video games in general, but also (rather boldly) you. It’s conscious of how you act (conscious that you’re conscious that you’re playing a video game) and will comment, even scorn you for this; needless to say the results are rather hilarious. Because The Stanley Parable is very, very funny. Never taking itself too seriously it tells a story filled with more jokes than you will ever find. But beyond the distinctive humour that makes this game so lovable it tries to tell you something about videogames and how you play them. It doesn’t fall into the trap of replicating or over exaggerating the mediums short comings (as I believe Deadpool did, though I have yet to play it), instead it points them out to you and let you do the maths. As you’ll probably notice from the trailer even Stanley’s job is a parody of playing a particularly linear video game.

Do you take the red pill or the blue pill? Sorry, door, don't worry neither leads down the rabbit hole

 The Narrator is wonderful. With plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour in his monologues and incredible voice-acting, Kevan Brighting’s performance is worthy of a place alongside narrators from Thomas Was Alone or Dear Esther.

Danger everywhere, in particular around the stacked fork-lifts or whatever

Should you buy it? Yes! If you want genuinely funny humour and incredibly original and innovative narrative then dive into the game knowing as little as possible about it. The price may be a bit steep for the 4-hour play time it took me (though I’m sure I’ll replay many endings and some still elude me), but stop moaning and buy it on sale if you must. If you’re not eager to spend £10/$15 on something you know practically nothing about then there’s a great demo that was developed separately and gives you an indication of what to expect without spoiling anything. I’d highly recommend playing this, it’s free so why the hell not? I will, however, say that it’s probably best not to play the original HL2 mod, as although it’s been remade and expanded upon, much remains similar, and I kind of wish I had experienced The Stanley Parable first as the full game instead of the mod (which I played around a year back). But still, there really aren’t any games that are comparable to The Stanley Parable, and it’s refreshingly original. Video games, take note!

The Stanley Parable has a website and a Steam page that includes the free demo and full game.


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