Review: The Stanley Parable

BY JORDAN RYDER | MARCH 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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“When Stanley came to a set of two open doors, he entered the door on his left.” I took the door on the right, defying the Narrator and his story. But even as I did, I wondered how much the choice mattered, because eventually, he would reset the game, and I would be back in my office, all of my choices moot. 

A first-person exploration game built on the Source game engine, The Stanley Parable is the story of man named Stanley, who sits at his desk all day typing until one day he realizes all of his coworkers have disappeared, and a voice in his head giving him instructions. The defining moment of the game comes upon a set of two doors, and the Narrator tells you to go left. 

Stanley’s journey is centered on choices and outcomes, and choosing which door is the catalyst for every one of the story's endings.

You can comply or defy. Regardless, the Narrator will eventually reset you back to the starting point of Stanley’s office and erase all of your work, raising the question, do your choices matter?

Play long enough, and eventually, you’ll find yourself actively trying to battle against the game’s only other character, the Narrator. Cast as some sort of omniscient entity that has crafted the story, he seems to be the driving power of the game. But over the course of my adventure, I began to realize that the relationship between the two characters is actually much more complicated. The Narrator might have the power to reset the story, but he needs the choices and actions of Stanley to have a purpose. Otherwise, the story goes nowhere. 

Despite the depth it possesses and the questions it raises it about storytelling and choices, The Stanley Parable is quite short. For the most part this works well, allowing the player to reach the various endings quickly without investing a lot of time to each one. 

The only downside to its brevity is that one can see most if not all of the endings and contents within two hours. It winds up feeling like not a lot of content for the $15 price.

The Stanley Parable is certainly a worthwhile experience, but most may want to wait for a Steam sale before downloading it.

The Stanley Parable was developed by Davy Wereden and is available Steam for Mac and PC for $15.

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