“This is a story of a man named Stanley,” the narrator chimes in as you start the game. You are Stanley, a man whose entire job is to push buttons whenever they appear on screen. Suddenly, all of your co-workers at your company disappear, and it’s up to you to find them … or is it?
Right off the bat, you’ll notice Stanley Parable to be a very different type of game. There’s no running, jumping, or shooting, as you simply walk through the whole game.
The narrator offers fairly hilarious, insightful and troubling commentary on video games and to a certain point, he even dives into existentialism. However, it’s far from a lecture as the game interacts with you (and you with it) in ways that will bend your mind. The game will often times present you with a choice, where you can either follow the narrator or go your own way.
You’ll soon realize that you can’t even really disobey the narrator, as any action you could possibly take has already been foreseen by the game’s creators and the narrator mocks you as you predictably try to solve your way out of a faux puzzle or as you try to make a “free choice” that’s been presented you.
In Stanley Parable, your choices aren’t really “free” just because you’ve decided to take a different path than one prescribed, as all the paths have been designed, and either way, you’re just a lab rat running through a wild maze.
If you’re hoping that this game turns into a high octane, action-packed adventure game later down the road, this isn’t the game for you. The Stanley Parable very much sits in the gray area of what a game actually is, as it can be argued that it’s a visual/interactive novel as much as it is a game.
The most unique thing about Stanley Parable is that it tells something of a satirical story and commentary in such a way that no other form of media can. You experience it firsthand, you walk through each corridor, and each decision you make has a vastly different outcome on the story. It predicts what you are going to do next with shocking accuracy and makes you feel stupid as you hopelessly try to navigate the world.
Stanley serves as a vehicle that carries you through the different scenes and the decisions you make — he has no voice and no personality. The narrator is definitely one of the most intriguing parts of the game, he’s an extremely well-crafted personality and the voice work is absolutely top notch.
It’s an interesting mental puzzle that gives the player something to think about as you go along. The Stanley Parable is a game that can most definitely tickle the mind and it grabs the player in whole. Admittedly, this game isn’t for everyone, but I still can’t recommend it enough. Overall, I give it a 9.5/10.