In The Stanley Parable you are the titular character Stanley; an office worker who leaves from his office to discover all his co-workers missing and a voice narrating what is happening, telling him what to do. Seems like your average day at the office. The narrator leads Stanley to a set of two open doors, telling him to enter the door on his left. Normally, you would do this; after all, he is the narrator and this is his game, is it not? Well, no, not really. You can disobey, rebel and go against the story which you’re given. This is fundamentally the only gameplay: the choice to obey the narrator or not. This may seem relatively dull, but the way the narrator’s voice is designed leads to a subversive experience that is unmatched in any of the other narrator driven games.
The game’s graphical look, on the face of it, is not particularly special with many items repeated throughout; most of the time is spent in office corridors. It won’t win any awards but there are small things in the game that most won’t notice. There’s definitely a level of care shown throughout that the creators placed into the game’s overall look and it’s likely after your second or third play-through, you’ll start to love the way it has been planned out.
Special commendation has to go to the narrator though as without him, this would not be a game worthy of praise; it’d be more like a tech demo for Corridor World. His voice, a mixture of composed and controlling, gives the game a flair that is unmatched in game storytelling – an ability to cause chaos in the player’s mind whilst keeping a veneer of normality through his power he has over Stanley. He manages to keep the player entertained and keeps the story flowing regardless of the choices the player makes. There’s a particular moment which stands out for me: when he thinks the player has died because they’d chosen to let Stanley stand in a broom closet when there is literally nothing there. His voice does get slightly cut off at times such as when an action is done too quickly for the audio to catch up but, as a whole, the game flows even if the player decides to stop and do nothing.
Due to its narrative and the mind-destabilising nature of this game, it is an easy choice if you want to have a non-conventional experience. If you want to be challenged with puzzles or shooting, this may not be the game you’re looking for. However, if you love to question the illusion of free choice in your gaming experience, this game will certainly satisfy you. Even if your choice of game isn’t as oddly specific, the Stanley Parable will still be worth a look due to its numerous bizarre plotlines and a very witty narrator bringing together a truly unique game that not only subverts but challenges story-telling in gaming.