Welcome to our regular gameplay impressions and video post where we record our first 10-30 minutes with a new game, and provide some general impressions on that early playthrough. Today’s game is: The Stanley Parable from developer Galactic Cafe. [NOTE: The game does crash at about the 17 minute mark, but we felt that the gameplay shown thus far was more than enough for gamers to make a decision about the title. Also, this is a game that is best experienced first hand.]
Within the first few minutes, The Stanley Parable seemingly lays all of its cards on the table, establishing itself as a first person adventure game – at one point it was a Half-Life 2 mod – in which the player controls a dull, cubicle zombie named Stanley. However, after a brief introduction courtesy of the game’s omniscient narrator, it becomes clear that The Stanley Parable isn’t straightforward at all, but is in fact a surprisingly refreshing meditation on the nature of games, choice in games, and ultimately your role as the player.
Although the game’s narrator provides direction and context for Stanley’s actions, it is up to the player to choose how their version of Stanley would act. They can choose whether to follow the narration, or to deviate from it – to either become Stanley or carve their own path.
Therein lies the core appeal of The Stanley Parable in its early goings-on. While many games, like Mass Effect 3 for example, present the illusion of choice, The Stanley Parable gives the illusion of a single path. As you can see in the video, the player can choose simply to let Stanley plummet to his doom, and that becomes his story. Granted, that isn’t a very compelling narrative, but it is one fueled purely by player choice.
Some might scoff at the Meta nature of The Stanley Parable, but that’s par for the course with a game like this. The game uses the basic formula of an interactive experience and flips it completely on its head, all the while forcing the player to consider some pretty complex ideas.
For me, that type of experience was instantly appealing. And knowing that my inherent nature to try to “break” games was actually a viable option left me all the more impressed.
Early on it becomes clear that The Stanley Parable is something special — a game that wants to entertain players just as much as it wants them to think. Moreover, it reinforces the belief that the real innovation and experimentation in games is taking place in the independent development community.
What did you think of this brief preview of The Stanley Parable? Does it look like a game you would be interested in? If you enjoy our gameplay videos make sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel to let us know you want more.
The Stanley Parable is available now on Steam.
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