Title: The Stanley Parable Developer: Galactic Cafe Platforms: PC Price: $14.99 (on sale for $11.99) ---
The Stanley Parable is a game of contradictions. It's about a man named Stanley, but it's also your story. It's a game about choice, but also the lack of choice. It's funny and humorous, but also surprisingly existential. The Stanley Parable is many things, but one fact remains consistent: it's something you need to experience.
Yes, experience. The Stanley Parable could be defined as a game - you walk, look around, interact with objects - but it's more of an virtual Choose-Your-Own-Adventure narrative than what some might consider a game. That doesn't make the Stanley Parable any less worthy of your time and attention. You control a man named Stanley, employee 427, instructed to press buttons ad naueseam and nothing more. Or so he thinks, until one day, the instructions cease and you take the fateful steps into the abandoned office building outside your room and the world beyond.
Or not. You never have to leave your office. Make that choice and the Narrator - masterfully voiced by Kevan Brighting - will surely have some comment, some retort, some insight on your decision. Go left instead of right, got downstairs instead of upstairs, press the button, don't press the button, press a different button, and the Narrator will always be there with a snappy comeback. He's your guide, your benefactor, your nemesis, your teacher, and half the time, he seems just as lost and confused by the sudden turn of events as you are. He's the foundation of the game and never ceases to amuse and entertain.
To discuss those "turn of events" would do a disservice to the wonderfully crafted narrative. The Stanley Parable may last only four or five hours but it's a one of a kind experience that will have you smiling, chuckling, laughing, confused, reeling from momentary shock and surprise in response to the myriad paths your choices will take you. It's a game tailor made for discussions and excited recollections of your favorite moments and discoveries. More than any other experience this year, it's a game for gamers, in the way it plays with, subverts, comments on the expectations and tropes of the medium. You need to play The Stanley Parable.
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