To say The Stanley Parable is a ‘game’ would be inappropriate. It begins with a narrator opening the scene, describing plainly a day in the life of Stanley, not unlike the satirical comments often heard from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. After this short, quirky description, the player is ‘tasked’ with wandering the desolate halls of his mysteriously vacated workplace, a mystery which Stanley, with the continuous guidance from the Narrator, must unravel.
Or not. You see as you wander through the empty facility, the narrator recites the events to the player – the brilliance of the Stanley Parable is that you can completely ignore the instructions of the narrator, essentially rewriting the short tale entirely. For example, you approach two open doors, at which point the omniscient voice dictates the player to enter the left. On my first of 4 or 5 playthroughs, however, the non-conformist in me pushed me to the right, at which point the whole narrative shifted and adapted to my decision as the narrator made hilarious and offbeat remarks on the matter, keeping the stupid grin painted across my face for the entire duration.
A ‘game’, then, is almost certainly an inappropriate description of the Stanley Parable. The only apt word for it is an experience. It not only shows off, yet again, how versatile Valve’s Source engine is, but also how these interactive lines of code we’ve come to worship can showcase humor, quirk and charm in a way other mediums simply can’t.
+ Innovative, witty and funny.
+ Multiple thought provoking endings
+ Its free (providing you have a source game)
- Level design is a little uninspired (although a remake is in the works to improve this)
The Stanley Parable was released on July 27th, 2011 for the PC.