The Stanley Parable is an adventure game developed and published by Galactic Cafe and designed by Davey Wreden. It is available on Steam. **WARNING: Pictures may contain minor spoilers.**
You play as Stanley, your typical office worker who only requires one finger to do his job. The “game” itself isn’t so much a game as it is an interactive narrative that can really make you question your existence sometimes while giving a good laugh if you decide to be a troll. The broom-closet ending is definitely the best. The premise of the game is all about choice – something Stanley apparently never had or even bothered to consider. There’s a lot of room for open interpretation with all the different endings and quite frankly each one conveys a different message depending on the path you traveled to reach there.
To me, the majority of the endings consisted of seeking happiness (or at least the voice in your head/narrator wanted you to have happiness) only to find that it was impossible to obtain if you stray from the “correct” path. Even then, traveling down the correct path was not very rewarding and still ended poorly overall. The takeaway after getting a few different endings was questioning society as a whole: there are many choices we face each day but certainly there’s still that obvious path we follow in our daily lives be it at home, work, or school. The game imitates the real world which choices which can lead to the next stage, into chaos, or be fake and force you down a single scripted path. We have all encountered and dealt with similar choices in life and hopefully walked out better from it; Stanley faces resets which can sometimes retain memories and others resulting in a clean wipe.
I’m sure most people don’t like to be told what to do but must comply because of policies and whatnot but this game allows you to continuously defy what you are told to do and brings up some pretty interesting philosophical commentary mostly pertaining to an existential crisis and power of choice. It’s actually quite fun the first few times you go explore but after a while it does feel a bit tedious. If you are traveling down a pretty long path you can make a choice that ultimately resets your progress and you know there’s other endings beyond that so kind of daunting to have to traverse it all again. That being said, I’m satisfied with the variety of endings I achieved in just a few hours; the narrator’s personality definitely changes and the delivery of each ending is rather powerful. There were a lot of mixed emotions but mostly just curiosity of the known, despair, and managed to get a few good laughs. Seriously, just standing around doing nothing in the right places brings up some great narratives.
I would like to say this game reflects upon social norms in general and how order is achieved through lack of choice or at least following the correct path while deviation results in chaos. However, you are playing as Stanley, and during a few paths the question of self-awareness comes up and basically over simplifies the question of what makes you happy or what are you seeking? Great game to play if you like interactive narratives (excellent work done by Kevan Brighting) and are interested in philosophy. The replay value falls in a weird spot because it can indeed be quite daunting just trying to get back to where you were just to make another choice.
See you next game! -DecoyEC has logged out.