The Stanley Parable by Galactic Café is an exercise in existential horror, detailing the further adventures of Stanley and the Narrator through video game hell. True to almost every depiction of Hell worth its salt, it is absurdly funny and harrowingly dark.
“This is the story of a man named Stanley…”
Stanley had a soul-crushing, mindless, boring job pressing buttons according to screen prompts. Stanley did not once become aware of the fact that a British man with a voice like Worcester sauce pouring down your ear was narrating his life, until his world pretty much ended. He is now trapped in a story that has no true ending, except about a dozen sort-of resolutions.
You are now reading this review in the Narrator’s voice.
“Oh we were free, we were free…”
The Stanley Parable is a borderline example of a video game. It would be best to imagine it as a choose-your-own-adventure book that hates you, occasionally featuring blank pages you can hop to where you can write whatever the bloody hell you like and it will somehow fit in. But you can’t use a pen and you have no fingers.
GO TO 24.
You find yourself wandering through the game, kind of hoping you are going to get yourself a credits sequence and find a cutscene explaining everything, even as a British man with reality-altering powers torments you. You shut the door of your office and don’t get out.
GO TO 7
You pick up the phone. She’s waiting for you at home. The breadmaker is jammed, so you try to fix it with a fork. You are electrocuted and killed. She does not call the police, as the British man won’t let her. He is very sad to watch you go.
GO TO 42
You jump off the platform and end up splattered on the cargo room floor. You did it. You’re free.
GO TO 1.
This is the story of a man named Stanley…
- Roughly 5,000 words of text (not counting the Stanley Limerick)
- The Stanley Parable is an aberration of modern gaming and I am sincerely hoping nobody tries to copy it. Subtlety is lost to most people, nowadays.
- You can get it on Steam for 10 bucks. If you’re still unconvinced, try the Demo. It will fill you in and it’s for free.
- Davey Wreden, the game’s writer, is somehow NOT a published author, according to his claims after a little discussion we had. He is apparently smart, as well as insane.
- You may now stop reading everything in the Narrator’s voice.
Konstantine Paradias is a Greek science fiction and fantasy writer. He has a blog, called Shapescapes (shapescapes). He’s also hard at work writing a book about Mongols in Zastavas, tearing through Asia all the way to your back yard. He has been offered a chance to know the moment of his demise, which he described as ‘hillarious’.
For comments or plain old contact, you can find him at firstname.lastname@example.org