Who is Stanley? Why is Stanley? What's Stanley's story? Find out in this new edition of a classic; here's The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe.
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What is The Stanley Parable?
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is unlike any game out there and although it was originally released back in 2013, the developers have been hard at work adding even more strange content to freshen it up for its console debut. By the way, I didn't play the original so this review is from the perspective of a player who's completely new to the game. v1d30chumz 18-204-56-185
In The Stanley Parable, you play as Stanley, a man sitting at a desk in his windowless office who suddenly notices that everyone in his office seems to have disappeared. A narrator calls this out and starts describing what the player is doing as if telling a story about Stanley. As the player, you control Stanley's movements around the office and can decide to follow the narrator's prompts or go your own way.
Your first playthrough of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe will likely be over quite quickly but that's just the beginning. Each time you reach an ending where Stanley either dies or the game resets due to other circumstances, you start back in the same office again with the same narrator saying the same lines. Then, the choices you make in a given playthrough determine which of many branches you end up going down. Do you take the left door and walk toward your boss's office or do you take the right door against the narrator's direction and head into the warehouse? Do you take the lift to the other side or do you jump off mid-way and make way through a seemingly inaccessible door? Every choice you make will send you down another unpredictable path which is very clever stuff. 💡
The vast majority of decisions in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe involve choosing which door to go through although there is the odd interaction with other elements in the scenery. Choosing which door to go through next actually kept me quite satisfied for a good 6 hours or so, especially when you throw in the extra content provided with this Ultra Deluxe package. However, I would have liked to experience more interactions with the scenery to help keep the gameplay fresh.
Instead, I relied on making the right chain of decisions to open up areas outside of the typical office / warehouse architecture such as when I suddenly appeared in the middle of the game Firewatch, when I found myself admiring a pretty garden, or when I walked around the halls of a conference room complete with silly gags to celebrate the launch of The Stanley Parable 2 which is currently not a real game. When you manage to unlock a new area, it's fun to explore it even though most areas remain rather linear.
The narrator in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is a key part of the fun. He seems to have a strong connection with Stanley and for some reason, is intent on telling a story that involves Stanley making certain decisions. If you follow the narrator's guidance then you'll get one of the good endings but that would be boring, wouldn't it? It's much more fun to ignore him and listen to him go on about how you're not listening to him. However, sometimes he does just that: goes on and on and will not stop talking while you're just standing there waiting. The Ultra Deluxe edition actually has a gag about this and has you press a skip button if you go down one path but even though it's very tongue-in-cheek, it still left me desperately wanting one. 🤐
Some parts of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe had me laughing out loud whether from a silly quip by the narrator, something bizarre in the scenery, or just the sheer absurdity of doing something like climbing up the same set of stairs 5 times and jumping off to kill yourself to reset the loop. When you're in the groove and keep finding new paths, it can be a lot of fun but when you seem to be repeating the same steps over and over again while changing your actions doesn't seem to ultimately alter anything then you might get frustrated and resort to looking up a guide to discover content that you may have missed.
Who turned out the lights?
The graphics in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe are pretty solid for the most part although not particularly special. However, I had a lot of trouble on multiple occasions with the brightness. I have an OLED TV and I was often annoyed that I couldn't see a thing. This isn't that common in games and when it happens, there's usually a brightness setting but The Stanley Parable doesn't have one at all which made me merely walk around in circles a lot or walk into walls over and over until I managed to find a light in the distance.
Although it's short-lived, I had some good fun with The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. Its sheer absurdity had me laughing out loud on a few occasions but I also wish there was more to it such as additional gameplay elements other than simply walking through doors.
- + Mostly strong humour with plenty of bizarre moments throughout
- + A unique mind-bending experience
- + Some interesting additional scenes
- - Could use more gameplay variety and less repetition
- - I wish you could skip the narrator
- - Needs a brightness setting