As soon as he watched the demo, Ben knew The Stanley Parable would be a game he would want to write about.
When Ben sat down to play it for the first time, just a little over two hours ago he did so with a pen and paper at his side. As he turned corners, listening intently to the wonderfully eccentric narration of Kevan Brighting, he happened across an occurrence unlike any he’d witnessed in a game before.
Putting that same pen to that same piece of paper, Ben wrote: “Veered from narration so much the game restarted.”
Ben was wrong.
See! Well he actually he said “narrator’s narration”, the buffoon. Terrible handwriting too. Anyway…
Ben had only scratched the surface of The Stanley Parable, but as I said earlier he had only played it for two hours. You see, The Stanley Parable isn’t a game that takes long to complete, but it’s also a game that never actually ends.
Well, it has endings, but does it really?
On that same now-scratched surface The Stanley Parable is seemingly about choice. In particular it’s about choice in video games. Or is it about narrative structure? Or a gamer’s actions and about the worth of those actions also.
It could be about dreary nine-to-fives and mundane lives. That or it’s about an NPC breaking free of a game’s shackles. It may also – because you become aware of your own attitudes towards playing games – be about self-awareness.
As Ben tried to wrap his head around the concepts one hour into playing he…. hang on, he went to get a drink.
A Pepsi in fact…..
Oh get on with it.
Ben came back with a… an orange squash? Hmmm. That wasn’t where I wanted this review to go but okay.
He’s playing with his phone now. You might miss something Ben. See! You missed that bit with the phone! Oh well, you’ll play it over in about 10 minutes anyway.
Ben marched on through the corridors of Stanley’s office so quickly that the narration could barely keep up. Ben stopped. He was wondering if things were where he last saw them. “Was that spilt coffee always there?” he wondered.
Ben marched onwards, around, up and down until he thought he had witnessed all The Stanley Parable had to offer. However, as he quit the game and returned to his desktop, he wondered whether he had seen it all.
“Was there something I missed?” he thought, wondering whether there was something he had missed. It was a game simultaneously small and vast, so simple in one execution and yet to brimming with ideas in another. It twists, turns in such a mind-bendingly meta fashion that to describe it in any real detail is to spoil the game entirely.
That’s if it’s a game at all. Is it art? Oh do shut up.
That feeling of completion was itself tarnished with a curiosity that nothing was complete at all and Ben knew he would return to the game as soon as he did two things. First he emailed his fellow GodisaGeek writers and implored them to play The Stanley Parable for themselves, then he opened up a Word document and thought to himself:
“How on Earth do I review a game like this?”
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.