The Stanley Parable isn’t a game that you can review in the traditional sense. To even hint at why I love it so much would be to ruin the experience, and when the experience is this amazing, I’d hate to do that.
Of course, coming in so strong could have the opposite effect. Players picking it up and saying “it’s not that good” or “you hyped it up so much it fell flat”. But to those I say: just enjoy the damn game and don’t read any further.
The original release of The Stanley Parable in 2013 saw Crows Crows Crows cement themselves as a studio to watch thanks to clever writing, incredible foresight, and really understanding how to make a player get sucked in hook, line, and sinker. This Ultra Deluxe edition takes everything the studio pulled off, adds to it, twists it, pokes and prods, pulls and stretches, and generally just messes with everything in such clever and insightful ways that even trying to comprehend the process is baffling to me. Luckily, I’m not a dev on the team, so I can just sit back and enjoy the experience – as should you.
There are laughs, there are deep moments, more laughs, satire, laughs, twists, turns, laughs, and some seriously clever use of tropes that show that Crows Crows Crows get gaming as a whole. Again, to even mention one moment would be to ruin a part of the game, but after 6 hours of play I’ve still only scratched the surface of what there is to see. I’ve run across a couple of screenshots from further in the game and while I’ll likely know how we get there closer to the time, the fact is there could be any number of ways to those results.
Taking a step back in case you’ve not heard of The Stanley Parable, we follow the tale of Stanley, employee 427 of a company and whose sole purpose is to come to work, press buttons, and follow orders to the letter. One day, Stanley recieves no orders for work, and so he sets out to find out why and also where his co-workers have disappeared to. Along the way the tale is narrated by The Narrator who tries to get us to follow his word the the letter. The genius behind the game though is the ways in which we can subvert his suggestions. Go right instead of left. Pick up an item when told to leave it. Refuse to to do this, press the opposite of that, etc etc. Each path leads to an ending, after which the game resets. Yet, it never truly resets, in ways you’ll see and discover. To say more would, again, be to ruin things.
It seems that no matter what the player tries, Crows Crows Crows have them beat to the punch, with a new line of dialogue or situation arising that suit our actions. Again, to say more would do the player an injustice, but just know that there will be a smile on your face at every turn.
And with that, I’m going to bow out. Without wanting to sound preachy, just know that you’ve never played anything like The Stanley Parable, and this Ultra Deluxe edition just expands on that in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. There are a lot of titles that gain short term notoriety thanks to the memes or streamers reacting, but this will outlast anything else that has come before and deserves to be considered one of the very best game experiences of all time.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on the Xbox Series release played on Series S|X. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. The reviewer purchased the title.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.