Review: ‘The Stanley Parable’ re-released with hours of new content

Plank Article Nick Venegas ’22

Developed by Crows Crows Crows, the critically acclaimed video game, “The Stanley Parable,” originally launched in 2013. Lauded for its wit, humor, and commentary about the nature of choice in video games, “The Stanley Parable” has now been re-released in 2022 with hours of new content under the moniker “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe.”

In short, “The Stanley Parable” follows the story of Stanley, an employee of a generic company who wants to find out why everybody from his workplace has seemingly disappeared. Or does he? Well, that’s the thing about “The Stanley Parable”: any semblances of a story are merely set-dressing for the unique and quirky experience that the player willingly seeks out through their choices. As players replay the short game, they reach different endings based on the variety of decisions they make. 

What makes “The Stanley Parable” so enjoyably distinct from other choice-based experiences is its introduction of a narrator who attempts to manufacture a linear story by voicing over all of the player’s actions right before they happen. For instance, the narrator will say, “Stanley entered the door on his left,” but by defying what the narrator says, the player will quickly realize that the narrator is a character of their own who feels dejection, anger, sadness, and joy based on how closely they follow their whims.

Through the voice talents of Kevan Brighting, the omnipotent and self-absorbed narrator becomes the definite witty backbone of “The Stanley Parable.” The narrator will open and close doors, move objects, and even teleport Stanley in reaction to the player’s choices, all with hilarious dialogue sprinkled throughout. The extent to which the narrator plays with the structure of the game to synthesize ridiculous scenarios cannot be overstated, and attempting to do so would risk ruining the game’s biggest surprises. 

The new content in “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” pushes these themes even further as the narrator, following a disappointing showcase of the “new content,” reminisces about how great the original 2013 game was. They even go as far as to indulge in literal reviews from real-world publications. With almost 10 years of hindsight, “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” further expands on its wonderful captivating commentary, moving from the design process of video games to the current landscape of the video game industry and media criticism. 

A nice aspect of the game is that its messages never feel preachy or tedious. The airheaded narrator is usually not to be taken seriously, allowing the game to be appreciated simply for its meta-humor and references as well as its insight.

Overall, “The Stanley Parable” is a smart, funny, and surprisingly insightful experience with many twists. Containing a nonexistent skill barrier and plenty of additional accessibility options introduced in the re-release, “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” is a wonderfully subversive piece of media that truly needs to be played to be fully enjoyed.