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The Stanley Parable: A Game About Games | The Gamers Blog

The Stanley Parable: A Game About Games

stanley parable

It is nearly impos­si­ble to explain what The Stan­ley Para­ble is about. It is a game about the nature of games, how a player inter­acts with the world, and what hap­pens if the antag­o­nist is the game itself.

At it’s core, The Stan­ley Para­ble is a first per­son explo­ration game. All of the inter­ac­tion comes through choice. Choos­ing a door to walk through, choos­ing which but­ton to press, or even choos­ing to do noth­ing at all. You play as Stan­ley, an office worker who may be asleep, crazy, bored, and every­thing in between.

To reveal any­thing about the game­play expe­ri­ence is to ruin that expe­ri­ence for you. It is very much a nar­ra­tive dri­ven game, with the major­ity of the enter­tain­ment value com­ing from the nar­ra­tor, given life by the incom­pa­ra­ble Kevan Bright­ing, and his inter­ac­tions with the player. If you are sen­si­tive and can’t take con­struc­tive and not as con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, you may want to stay away. The nar­ra­tor will hurt your feel­ings and make you feel worth­less but, to be fair, you do the same to him mul­ti­ple times.

In tech­ni­cal terms the game is fine, with ser­vice­able graph­ics that never get in the way of the expe­ri­ence. The game is still based in Source, so the physics that come along with that engine work well (even with a dearth of inter­ac­tive objects). The music is fan­tas­tic and hugely var­ied. It only shows up every so often but when it does the score will com­mand your atten­tion. The con­trols will be famil­iar to any­one who has played a first per­son game, save for the lack of one usual input vari­a­tion that leads to a hilar­i­ous achievement.

I had issues start­ing up the game upon first install, but upon rein­stal­la­tion the issues ceased. Besides that there were no bugs that I per­son­ally have noticed in my ten hours or so with the game.

Mind Control

What really stuck out to me was how The Stan­ley Para­ble reflects on the absur­dity of game mechan­ics and sto­ry­telling. We do it all for a weird sense of self grat­i­fi­ca­tion, the accom­plish­ment of the objec­tive. Be it an actual scripted objec­tive like every mis­sion based game, or the “I’m going to steal a heli­copter and try to jump out onto a bus” self gen­er­at­ing objec­tives in an open world game, it’s all there to give the player a sense of accom­plish­ment. The Stan­ley Para­ble decon­structs this to the point where one sec­ond the objec­tive could be to press a but­ton so that some boom­ing voice will say “Eight!” over and over and the next the objec­tive is to fig­ure out what the game wants you to do. In the end, the game doesn’t want you to do any­thing. It’s a game. And The Stan­ley Para­ble knows that.

You can com­plete The Stan­ley Para­ble in about 15 min­utes. Your first play through will prob­a­bly take about half an hour. But there is so much to explore within the crazy world that Galac­tic Cafe thrusts you into that it could eas­ily eat up much more. Not for twitch gamers or peo­ple who want to get to the top of the leader­boards, but if you value nar­ra­tive then I implore you to check this one out. At least get the demo off of Steam. If any­thing, you’ll get a chuckle out of just how ridicu­lous it all is.

In its purest essence, The Stan­ley Para­ble is a com­men­tary on rou­tine, achieve­ment, the gov­ern­ment, video games, and life itself. I love get­ting lost in it’s world and los­ing myself within it. Every­one needs to play this.

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