Have You Played… The Stanley Parable?

Employee 432

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The Stanley Parable was big when it came out. Its sense of humour, its impossible architecture, its multiple narration strands all came together to form a wonderful breath of fresh air with a wide-ranging appeal.

But it turns out there are at least, like, eight people who didn’t play it, either as a Source mod or as a standalone game. It is at those eight that this HYP is aimed.

The Stanley Parable deposits you in an office building accompanied by a narrator. You’re free to choose which paths to take through the game, negotiating an often-prickly relationship with the storyteller as your choices come into conflict what he apparently had planned for you.

The Stanley Parable is smart, truly funny and loves to wrongfoot its players. Individual run throughs don’t take long so it’s very much something you can come back to at odd moments and explore a new option. It’s also surprisingly screenshottable.

Ugh. I’ve made myself want to try a new ending. I hate HYPs because they keep making me reinstall things.

39 Comments

  1. elasticman says:

    I’m one of the eight, although I’m planning on remedying that shortly. Played the demo recently and it’s just delightful – a genuinely funny, inventive and (unusually for a demo) complete experience, and with a weirdly and unexpectedly poignant conclusion. Seems to be completely separate from the main game too, so I’d recommend it even to anyone who’s played TSP itself – I expect it’ll almost feel like an hour-long mini-expansion.

    • BTAxis says:

      One more here – same story basically. The game is in my library and I enjoyed the demo. Just… haven’t played it yet.

    • Frosty Grin says:

      I actually didn’t like the full game as much as I liked the demo. So it was a minor disappointment for me.

      • Turkey says:

        It didn’t live up to the fantastic trailers either.

      • Aninhumer says:

        I feel like I enjoyed the original free version more than the full game. I’m still not sure if the original was better in some way, or if it was just that the new version couldn’t surprise me, because I’d seen most of the routes already.

    • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

      Really enjoy it when demos run as a complete experience in their own right. These days, I feel, I generally don’t want to essentially install a game twice, nor do I want to play through the opening twice.

      • The First Door says:

        I liked the fact there was a little gallery of other demos which were standalone experiences too!

  2. Bluerps says:

    Speaking of the number eight – everyone who hasn’t should play the demo of Stanley Parable, even people who already played the game. It’s brilliant.

  3. Razumen says:

    Great game, and one I think is even enjoyable for someone who’s watching you play as it’s easy for them to suggest different actions and experience the new branches just as well as the player.

  4. melnificent says:

    I wonder how many people took a screenshot of the fern. I fear saying more because spoilers…

    • death_au says:

      Ahhhh! Now I want to try this, but I’m trying to get the “Go outside” achievement.

  5. frymaster says:

    To the absolute surprise of the guy hosting it, the summer I-series LAN pub quiz featured recordings of the Stanley Parable narrator doing custom-written lines (“Questions would appear on a screen, and it was Wizzo’s job was to read them out loud…” etc)

    Apparently they also included many alternative lines we didn’t get to hear, based on his reactions.

    Amazing effort by the organisers.

  6. eggy toast says:

    I played the demo because everyone said it was amazing. I thought it was pretty bland Portal-by-way-of-Douglas Adams, but without really being as interesting as Portal or as clever as The Guide. So no, I haven’t played the full version, because $4 on the sale seemed too high for a longer version of the same joke.

    • Halk says:

      I played the full version and was not impressed.

      Every playthrough only takes about 10 minutes, so there is no time for development of the game. A longer game in that style that gets crazier and crazier, and where slowly we learn what it is really going on, MIGHT have been interesting, but not this ultra-short game with parallel routes instead.

      Some of the humor was funny, some was not. And even when it is funny, it is basically always the same one joke, as you said. Alltogether the game was more annoying than fun, and I was kind of glad when I had seen all (or most?) endings, and could uninstall it.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    I used to have a space in an art studio in a recently-abandoned tax office in Ireland. When the first wave of us moved-in, I did a lot of exploring of the unused upper floors of the building. Playing through TSP was eerily similar to that experience as the environments looked very similar, right down to the colour of the carpets (and, of course, the lack of people). It was the kind of place where you almost wouldn’t be surprised if there actually was a m*** c****** room.

  8. kyrieee says:

    I didn’t find it funny at all, or as clever as people had made it out to be. Different strokes for different folks I guess, I didn’t particularly enjoy Wheatly in Portal 2 either.

    • Ross Angus says:

      How’d you feel about Jasspunk? Or Borderlands 2?

      (I’m not suggesting they have the same sense of humour)

      • kyrieee says:

        I quite liked Jazzpunk actually, even though I thought the jokes were hit or miss. It references so many things it’s hard to not find a few jokes you like. I hope more games in a similar vein get made, because I think there are a lot of refinements to be made. The pacing in particular. Borderlands 2 I haven’t played.

    • eggy toast says:

      Were you meant to enjoy Wheatley or was he supposed to be obnoxious and hated?

      I thought every single aspect of Portal2 was a massive step down, from the linearity of the puzzles to the overcomplicated and needless backstory. Worst Valve game I’ve played, in my opinion.

    • Chiller says:

      Ah, good to know I’m not alone. I was just about to post a comment asking if anyone else hated this game (because it’s surprisingly hard to find that sentiment on the Internet at large). I have my answer now.

      For me, it was the narrator. I found him to be unbearably smug and overbearing, which really killed all enjoyment I could have possibly have gotten out of the game. The high point of my attempts of playing The Stanley Parable was when I finally quit.

  9. piedpiper says:

    I played stoned on strong weed. It was mindblowing existential experience. Also I was laughing my ass off. I was just in awe. One of the best gaming experiences in my 20-years gaming life. And the most funny that’s for sure.

  10. Alex says:

    Yes! I LOVE The Stanley Parable. It was one of the games that got me truly interested in games again, after many years of having an “eh” relationship with ’em, due to not being aware of the games that were actually doing interesting and innovative stuff. I agree, this game is not only smart but it’s truly funny. I love the way it gives you so many crazy possibilities to explore, yet all the while is critiquing our notions of what freedom and agency really mean within games.

    I think the Errant Signal vid analyzing & interpreting The Stanley Parable is a great watch, BTW: link to youtube.com

  11. PerspectiveDesigns says:

    I envy all 8 of you. It’s an amazing game!

  12. Scurra says:

    Well there were nine until literally a week ago., when I spend a couple of evenings lost in it.
    I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. Like Portal2 (and Borderlands2) I was laughing most of the way though and was impressed by how subtle the railroading actually was, and it’s made me look at other games in a whole new way, which is – I guess – part of what it was trying to do. But it was also a bit too much sixth-form philosophy (what I call The Matrix Syndrome) where it got a bit too excited with some of its ideas, as though they were highly radical (although it’s also fairly clear that the makers knew that they weren’t.)
    Having said that, as noted, I did also laugh all the way through it (which I definitely didn’t do with The Matrix) so I guess that’s a win.

  13. Urthman says:

    There oughta be a law requiring articles about The Stanley Parable to link to the Raphael Trailer. Here, I’ll do it this once, but don’t mess this up again, RPS.

    • TomxJ says:

      I really enjoyed this ghost of a dream of a memory of a cyborg warrior trying to find his dead wife inside a poem simulator.

      Stanley parable has to be one of my favorites, but I have problems going back to it. It was a real product of the zeitgeist for me.

    • Halk says:

      If it were possible to do all the crazy things in the trailer I guess the game would be less boring. Too bad.

    • Rufust Firefly says:

      The elite Raphael Mode in the trailer is one of the best things, and I do wish more games sought to strive to please the vicious taskmaster that is Raphael.

      Loved the Stanley Parable, and the Adventure Line Theme Song is one of the best tunes in gaming.

  14. sonofsanta says:

    This was my Christmas game – i.e. the game I saved for a bottle of wine and a late evening while it was the hols and I had no work to get up for in the morning – and honestly… I was a little underwhelmed. I think partly I had built it up too much, but I think it suffered a lack of structure in its many-replays setup. It started brilliantly, but devolved (for me) into checking a wiki to see what endings I’d missed and finished with me deciding that well, that was it then, rather than having any natural stopping point.

    Save the Date, on the other hand, managed to use the same structural conceit whilst still having an arc and felt all the more satisfying for it and is – IMHO – the stronger game. Less funny, more emotional, much more satisfying.

    • Sivart13 says:

      Sometimes I worry that Save the Date doesn’t get enough praise, but if it did that means opening itself up to backlash like a lot of the other comments in this post.

      so I think, for this point in time, Save the Date gets the appropriate amount of praise

      and is also the best

  15. pund says:

    It’s good but perhaps it’s priced a bit steeply for what it is(at least when I got it), IMHO.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    The broom closet ending was my favourite.

  17. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    YES. And I enjoyed it so much I threw copies at half a dozen friends that Christmas. Plus my little sister, who I watched encounter things I had never seen before. I swear the game is just an endless pile of joy.

    And the Confusion Ending was my first, so I foist upon ye this superb soundtrack extra:
    link to youtube.com
    That one sneakily worms its way into my head and out my mouth/nose whenever I try to sing/hum the original version, but I’m okay with that.

  18. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I have, but I am waiting to get the “Don’t play for 5 years” achievement before playing again.

    I realize you can change your system clock.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Same here. Plus, I figure that after 5 years without, I will have forgotten most of the narration.