Sometimes I’m a little late to the party. In the case of the Half Life 2 Mod ‘The Stanley Parable’ I’m a little bit over a year late and frankly the blame for this I put completely on you the reader. Why didn’t you insist that I play it? I suppose nothing can be done now but do be aware the hurt I feel will not be forgotten easily.
More after the jump.
The story unfolds with our protagonist having a strange day at work. His job is to sit in a room and mindlessly follows the instructions displayed a screen all day long. On this particular day however no instructions come and here begins our adventure. Sounds thrilling right? Trust me it is. This game has almost nothing in the way of typical gameplay. I think I counted 4 times interaction is possible with your surroundings and one instance that could be generously referred to as a puzzle. I’m still not selling this to you am I?
To put it simply ‘The Stanley Parable’ is some of the best writing you will find in a video game. I would characterise it as somewhere between Douglas Adams and Charlie Kaufman and trust that these are not names I would throw around lightly. Stanley’s story is narrated as he travels along his journey by the absolutely brilliant Kevan Brighting who I am convinced must be some sort of love child of Stephen Fry and Peter Jones. Without giving too much away the Narrator is not just an observer to the actions in the story and has motivations that are well beyond the protagonist’s grasp. To detail any of the possible ways the game may unfold would simply be cruel of me and I will not be partaking is such activities here only to say they deal heavily around ideas of choice and control.
There are a number of endings to this story although it will only take an hour or so for you to find every one. Discovering all these endings will not explain any overall goal of the game however although every single one is enjoyable and explores something different. This is a game of ideas but unlike other games which may fall under a similar banner (Dear Ester for instance) it is not dragged down by pretence. It is simply presented, easy to absorb, incredibly entertaining and a work of pure genius.
Since the success of ‘The Stanley Parable’ the developer Galactic Cafe has been hard on work on a standalone HD Remix. The game will share almost nothing in common with the original, except for the Narrator who will be returning with more wit and cunning than ever before. Below you can find two videos for Remix and if you are still on the fence about trying the first game I’d recommend the second one if I had to choose.
If you use Desura and have Half Life 2 installed the game can be downloaded and launched through their service which makes it even easier to play. I don’t want you to blame me in a year for not making you play it. Go play it now!