The Stanley Parable review - a brilliant game deconstruction or a cheap comedy?
The Stanley Parable is an intriguing adventure game seasoned with a large dose of humor. On the plus side, there are nice graphics with realistically reproduced office interiors, music that is pleasant to the ear and good sound . Special praise is due for the voice of the narrator accompanying the player. It takes a few minutes to complete a title, but it has many finals, and discovering them all is fun for at least a few hours. The lack of a Polish language version will be a major disadvantage for many - no cinema localization, i.e. subtitles, was even attempted. However, it cannot be denied that Galactic Cafe studio did a great job!
Probably that is what the standard review of The Stanley Parable should sound like , including the pros and cons, which are completely out of the finger in this text . But the production of the Galactic Cafe studio is not standard . It feels like a normal game, as it is hosted on Steam and even has a set of achievements. The problem is that one of them requires you not to play The Stanley Parable for five years. This perfectly describes the style of this production. The goal of Galactic Cafe studio is to deconstruct the contemporary game and the narrative used in it. The result is a production that tries to convince the player at every turn or - in the language of the Internet - trolls power . Is it worth getting yourself into such trouble? It all depends on our tolerance and sense of humor.
The style and means employed by The Stanley Parable make revealing too many plot details completely pointless . First, some "twists" are so absurd that without proper context they lose their power. Second, talking about them will spoil the fun for those who decide to impersonate Stanley. Because the game has a hero - an office worker - and a proper start. Stanley, a conscientious "data patter," suddenly discovers that he is absolutely alone in the office. Where are the other employees? What does Stanley do anyway? And why is the narrator's voice informed about everything that happens in his life? These are the starting questions that lead in various directions - from the usual finale through madness to parodying other games.
The structure of The Stanley Parable brings to mind one of my favorite American comedies - Groundhog Day , although the similarity is only formal . After reaching the next ending, we return to the starting point, Stanley's office, to look for other narrative branches. Theoretically, we repeat a lot of similar activities over and over, but it doesn't bother us. The individual finals are fun and devious, and unlocking them requires different measures - turning into a different corridor than before or manipulating the game. Let me just say that a variant has also been prepared for agnostics - you can close Stanley's office and give up trying to find out the truth. Another option requires ... activating and entering codes.
Why make a game like this? Because the games got deadly serious and stiff. The Galactic Cafe studio tries to convey that both the creators and the players are stuck in certain solutions and are unable to distance themselves from them . We have great difficulty breaking out of patterns and creating or accepting something else. This can be seen in both the content of the games and their marketing. On Kickstarter, millions are winning projects that will give us a new Fallout , Planescape Torment or Baldur's Gate . Meanwhile, the strength of each of these items was that they turned out to be different from what we knew before. They were, if not a revolution, then at least a genre evolution and introduced new ideas on how to build the illusion of a coherent world in which the player functions, rather than playing a previously written role. So why should we repeat them?
Diagrammaticity is doing so well, because many players like to play the same game and don't want to learn new things. It is also not particularly reflective and treats games in terms of empty entertainment. In the sense that entertainment is not about figuring out why we are clicking or pressing a button. Entertainment is clicking or pressing a button until the machine displays a congratulatory message. According to The Stanley Parable, this understanding of games is stupid. This is, of course, a valid point, although by insisting on it it is easy to be perceived as bloated and puffed up. Fortunately, the Galactic Cafe studio does not force its message in such a direct way - rather, it gives funny examples that amuse and give food for thought.
The Stanley Parable is fun and has tons of witty twists and even pertinent criticisms about games, players, and other related topics. And yet I missed something that, for example, Portal , a production that compared to The Stanley Parable is typical and conventional. The portal was able to pull into its world and at some point hit it with the blunt, showing that everything we believed in so far was a delusion. Before, I wasn't aware that games can have the power and finesse of good science fiction stories (at least not in this form, because many of them scripted are great). In The Stanley Parable, I didn't experience a moment that broadened my horizons for perceiving games. This work so often tries to go beyond its own framework that the individual "blows" are not very powerful. Funny, sometimes even impressive, they lack the depth that comes from believing in the world of GLaDOS 'lab rats'.
The great thing about The Stanley Parable is that it doesn't try to be something important and rather avoids pointing the finger at players or their behaviors to laugh at . At some point, you can look behind the scenes of the production and find out that the authors have given up the parody of the first-person shooters. Because the point is not that this species is bad and should be depreciated. The message of The Stanley Parable is rather the desire to learn about the game mechanics and verify the place where the gameplay led. Sometimes it is a good place, other times a little hell that we accept for lack of alternatives or out of habit. Galactic Cafe does not say that all games have to be intelligent, fun and self-ironic. Rather, he postulates that such creations also have their place on the market, as well as artistic and experimental works and the rest.