The Stanley Parable was a game I had never really researched. Despite the constant Steam advertisements, and even the odd occasion I have heard it discussed in conversation, but it wasn’t until I read Robin Valentine’s review, (I’d actually recommend giving his stuff a read, he’s a damn talented writer!), of the title a few days ago, that I decided to actually give the game a try.
I elected to try out the demo first, seeing as I had never even seen any gameplay and I am certainly glad I did. Rather than a mere trial of the title, the demo was a wholly new experience. In fact, I hadn’t even finished the demo before I had decided to download the full game. You see, narrative and character are amongst two of my favourite aspects in any form of media but they are often lacking in video games.
Therefore, the idea of a Narrator as a genuine character, rather than merely a means of advancing the narrative, is one which I find quite amazing. I imagined a GLaDOS-like character, an obsessive enemy who controls the environment you are trapped in down to the tiniest of Pixels. Therefore, I was more than amazed to discover the Narrator has gone beyond GLaDOS and any other character I have ever met in a game.
The Stanley Parable is, perhaps, the first game I would be completely comfortable with giving the definition of ‘Art’ to. Certainly, the gameplay is kept to a minimum, instead a great reliance being placed upon the character of the Narrator, the narrative he unfolds for you and, of course, the sheer amount of choice or, alternatively, the lack of choice, which the title offers you.
TSP is the cleverest, wittiest and most thought-provoking game I have ever played, or Artwork I have ever viewed, whatever definition you would give it. Every other sentence the Narrator utters sends thoughts racing throughout my brain and, after two hours of solid playing, I think I have managed to view every ending. That may not seem like much content, and I am certainly hungry for more, but it is better to have less of a title like this, than offer any dialogue that is not perfect.
I am not going to do any kind of review on this title, for at least another few weeks. Partially through my desire not to ruin the experience for anyone else, but also because I feel as though I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the title.