20 September 2020

The Stanley Parable Review

The Stanley Parable is a first-person exploration game that’s more of a narrative. This game can be completed in 5 minutes if you choose to listen to the narrator. Or, you could choose your own path. “Parable” means “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”
It was a game made to combat the people that say “Games can’t be art” Because the game is truly a piece of art.
It’s an extremely philosophical game about loneliness and the want, the need for control.

Introduction

Just a warning, this review may spoil some ending of the game, as this is not a conventional style of game, it’s quite difficult to write about without using direct quotes from the game itself.

To prove my point about the game being about loneliness and the want, the need for control. Right off the start of the game the Narrator says:


Employee #427’s job was simple: he sat at his desk in room 427 and he pushed buttons on a keyboard. Orders came to him through a monitor on his desk, telling him what buttons to push, how long to push them, and in what order. This is what Employee #427 did every day of every month of every year, and although others might have considered it soul rending, Stanley relished every moment the orders came in, as though he had been made exactly for this job. And Stanley was happy. And then one day, something very peculiar happened. Something that would forever change Stanley; something he would never quite forget. He had been at his desk for nearly an hour when he realized that not one single order had arrived on the monitor for him to follow. No one had shown up to give him instructions, call a meeting, or even say ‘hi.’ Never in all his years at the company had this happened, this complete isolation. Something was very clearly wrong. Shocked, frozen solid, Stanley found himself unable to move for the longest time. But as he came to his wits and regained his senses, he got up from his desk and stepped out of his office.

The Narrator

the Narrator will be referring to Stanley while playing the game but will also start talking to the player. The player as well is never given any meaningful choices that the game doesn’t account for. As soon as a player thinks they’ve found a hidden spot or a way to break the game the narrator immediately comments on it to show that it was already accounted for. This is best seen in the “Real Person Ending”

Oh, no no no no! You can’t- Did you just unplug the phone? Wait, oh goodness. Stanley, did you just unplug the phone? No, that wasn’t supposed to be a choice. How did you do that? You actually chose incorrectly? I didn’t even know that was possible. Let me double-check. [papers rustling] No, it’s definitely here, clear as day. Stanley picks up the phone. He’s taken to his apartment where he finds his wife and the two pledge themselves to one another. Music comes in, fade to white, roll credits. Not picking up the phone is actually somehow an incorrect course of action. how is that even possible? None of these decisions were supposed to mean anything. I don’t understand. How on earth are you making meaningful choices? What did you- Wait a second. Did I just see- No, that’s not possible, I can’t believe it. How had I not noticed it sooner? You’re not Stanley. You’re a real person. sigh, I can’t believe I was so mistaken. This is why you’ve been able to make correct and incorrect choices. And to think I’ve been letting you run around in this game for so long. If you’ve made any more wrong choices, you might have negated it entirely.

The Narrator

Gameplay

The game follows a very simplistic format of what most would call a walking simulator. You can only walk and using a left-click will sometimes interact with objects such as opening doors or even pushing a button. It’s sort of like a game about games. It’s open about being a commentary on the medium itself. It explores the illusion of choice in-games. But the game does offer a choice between playing the game and not playing the game. Some endings will literally tell you to turn the game off and to stop playing. (This is also shown in the achievements, such as an achievement to enable achievements and achievement to just not play the game for 5 years. Every achievement forces you to purposely go for them. more on that later.)

But listen to me, You can still save these two. You can stop the program before they both fail. Press ‘escape’ and press ‘quit.’ There’s no other way to beat this game. As long as you move forward, you’ll be walking someone else’s path. Stop now, and it’ll be your only true choice. Whatever you do, choose it! Don’t let time choose for you! Don’t let time to-

The Female Narrator

In reality, all he’s doing is pushing the same buttons he always has, nothing has changed. The longer he spends here, the more invested he gets, the more he forgets which life is the real one. And I’m trying to tell him this, that in this world, he can never be anything but an observer, that as long as he remains here, he’s slowly killing himself. But he won’t listen to me. He won’t stop!”

The Narrator

The Achievements

The achievements of the game are another way to show that the player has a choice… You can truly only earn achievements if you purposely go for them, as all but 1 achievement has to do with playing the game for a specific ending. Every other achievement has you doing some task that no person would do unless specifically for that achievement which proves my point about the game giving you a choice whether to play the game or not to. These achievements include: Actually turning on the ability to earn achievements through the settings, to click on a door 430 times and then complete a bunch of different tasks, not playing the game for 5 years, playing for an entire Tuesday (24 hours), and finally my favorite, repeatedly clicking a button for 3 hours without stopping or else you lose your progress.

Replayability

The only thing to do in the game is to move forward through the game. There are so many winding plot branches that have little to nothing to do with each other, so it’s difficult to really write about this game. We assume that games have a win state and that the point of them is to win for The Stanley Parable that isn’t really true. The end of the game is assumed to be a victory but not all stories are like that, most stories aren’t. The Stanley Parable has Tragic, Funny and obscured endings and while they all have meaning, hardly any of them can be called a victory.

Going through the red door ending:

“My God, is this really how much you dislike my game? That you’ll throw yourself from this platform over and over to be rid of it? You are literally willing to kill yourself to keep me from being happy? Am I reading the situation correctly?”

The Narrator

I like that the loading screen has “the end is never the end is never the end is never the end” written so many times is because of the fact that every ending is the end but not a true ending because there is no “true” or “real” ending to the game just different branches that you can take but no matter what. You’ll end-up loading back to your office to go through the game over and over again. Making small changes to your previous playthrough. If the game had a “true” or “real” ending it would invalidate all other endings as then it would have a true way to play the game. The game embraces the fact that it has multiple endings. And the game mocks the fact that it’s winnable.

Still nothing, Hm… I don’t kno… Well in that case, I’ll tell you what…You win. Congratulations. You did it. I know you put in a lot of hard work and it really paid off… so, good job. Mm…What do we do now? I don’t… Stanley! Where are you, right now? What? Where am I? I’m…I’m trying to figure out but I ca…can’t. Stanley! Who am I?! Can you speak to me? Please talk! Have we done this before?! Have we been in this room before?! How many times have we done this?! How many times have I said these exact words?! Say something! Anything! Help me, Stanley! I don’t know who I..Wha I!…St!…Sta!…Stan!…Help!…No!

The Narrator

What exactly did the Narrator think he was going to accomplish? When every path you can walk has been created for you long in advance, death becomes meaningless, making life the same. Do you see now? Do you see that Stanley was already dead from the moment he hit start?”

The Female Narrator

the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never the end is never

You can get The Stanley Parable right now on Steam and support the creators and check out their Website for updates on “The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Edition” Coming Summer 2020 to PC on Steam, PS4 and XBOX ONE. It’ll be packed with new content and endings.

Want to read more of our reviews? Check out our full list of reviewed games!


Note: Although anounced to “Late 2019” it has been delayed to “Summer 2020”

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Simplistic
  • Variety of Endings
  • A Fun Narrator
  • Unique
  • The End is Never the End
  • Humor

Cons

  • Finite Amount of Endings
  • Achievement Hunters Nightmare.

The Stanley Parable Review
Overall
9/10
9/10
  • Gameplay - 9/10
    9/10
  • Replayability - 8/10
    8/10
  • Art Style - 9/10
    9/10
  • Value For Money - 10/10
    10/10
Sending
User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Summary

The Stanley Parable is a unique and fun experience that just can’t be found anywhere else. There’s no other game quite like it or that captures the feeling of the game. The endings I’ve quoted in this review although reflect my feeling of the game and what I believe to be what it’s about is only the tip of the iceberg. There are nineteen achievable endings found in The Stanley Parable. Some of them end with a restart, others need the player to restart themselves. Each of the 19 endings will have you make a choice that determines the outcome of that ending. And of course, remember.  the end is never the end.

phoenixgaming1

I'm a trophy hunter and casual gamer. I write guides when I can and do Graphic design and VFX work on the side of my gaming.

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