‘The Stanley Parable’ is a subliminal masterpiece

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Photo Courtesy of Steam

A screenshot of the game “The Stanley Parable” is shown above.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

At the Game Awards in 2018, the yearly award show for the medium that just had its eighth ceremony this past week, a remaster of the beloved narrative adventure title, “The Stanley Parable,” was announced for a 2019 release date.

I was excited at the announcement, as I never got around to playing the game despite its initially release in 2013. The indie game grew to legendary status amongst the PC gaming community for its weird, creative and incredibly charming sense of humor that rode the early-2010 wave of indie games proving, they can not just live up to but surpass big-budget games in quality.

It has been three years now, and not a single release date has been confirmed after several years of delays. 

It initially started as a humorist delay announcement from the publishers of the title “Crows Crows Crows” to polish the title a bit more before releasing it the next year. When that window passed, then passed again in 2020 and seemingly passed again in this year. 

I gave up waiting for the remastered package and played through the original release. Days after I completed the game, the publisher announced another release window of 2022 – another joke in this fascinating development cycle, one only I will get to laugh at. That doesn’t subtract, however, from the comedic masterpiece “The Stanley Parable” still remains to this day. 

The story is simple. Office worker Stanley gets up from his desk one day, notices everyone is missing and ventures out of his cubicle to investigate. Yet, that is the only true bit of story the game holds your hand on. Once you leave that office space, a lot can happen.

“The Stanley Parable” is a virtual choose-your-own-adventure novel where you progressively encounter more decisions as you move forward, with each decision leading you further down the rabbit hole of the games several absurd endings. When I say absurd, I mean truly breaking new ground in what a game can do in storytelling: from sending you into a parking garage time loop growing more cosmically unstable by the second to being thrown into a separate game of “Minecraft” as the narrator grows frustrated by the players inability to follow directions.

It only takes about 45 minutes to experience the vanilla ending by doing everything the narrator says, but several hours of fun can be had while breaking said instructions and taking your own path into the game. Some decisions may not seem significant until later finding the whole universe as you know it is collapsing, and it’s all Stanley’s fault. 

The game is a creation of the Source engine, with it sharing many parallels to Value software’s similarly built titles like “Portal,” not just in gameplay but in the cold, concrete atmosphere created by the grey office visuals and set-pieces. That sounds dull but acts in pure juxtaposition in the absurdity of the game’s plot, creating a truly unique feeling to the game that sticks with you long after the credits roll.

If you desire a humorous, truly one-of-a-kind experience with gaming that has yet to truly be replicated, then “The Stanley Parable” is the joyous adventure you need. 

“The Stanley Parable” is available on PC and MacOS. 

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