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The Stanley Parable (PC) artwork

The Stanley Parable (PC) review

"Self-indulgent prattling. My review, not the game."

When Jerec saw that he had drawn the letter S in the Alphabet Olympics, he couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. He had really wanted the letter P, as he had spent the last hundred hours of his gaming time on Persona 5, and would have loved to review that for the contest. However, he did not want to take the hit of a ten-point penalty for switching letters, because he knew full well that several people would receive near perfect scores. He’d judged enough of these contests before to be quite confident of that fact.

Choosing a game presented an issue for Jerec. There weren’t any games starting with S that were on his list of games to play. He began playing Persona 3 Portable, feeling clever about the fact that the full title was actually Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable, and it would in fact count as an S game. But after playing for fifteen hours, he knew he would not finish it in time to write a review before the impending deadline.

Jerec started again.

His next idea was Shadowgate 64, a game he had once owned in his childhood. This game came to mind because he recalled an in-joke Runinruder had shared with him some seventeen years ago – The Shadowgate Rap. Jerec thought about writing a review of Shadowgate 64 composed as one long rap song, with verses describing the story, gameplay, graphics, sound, and even possibly whether you should rent or buy, as that question was very popular in reviews back in the year 2000. There was no way to obtain a copy of this game, as Jerec no longer even had a Nintendo 64, so he decided to watch a Let’s Play on Youtube for inspiration. Watching someone with an annoying voice proved difficult, and he gave up about half way through the first video.

It was just as well. Jerec knew nothing about writing rap songs. So, he started again.

As the deadline loomed closer, Jerec scanned his Steam list for something to play, and then he had a stroke of genius – The Stanley Parable. It was a short enough game that he could experience pretty much the whole thing in a single afternoon. It was a metatextual critique of videogames, which Jerec could cheekily use to metatextually narrate his frustration in finding a game to review, with all the choices presented to him leading to this inevitable result.

But Jerec also knew he would actually have to say something pertinent about The Stanley Parable for it to even be accepted as a review, and it did actually occur to him that a well written Persona 5 review might’ve been the better choice, even with that ten-point penalty.

Jerec played The Stanley Parable, observing how it lifted itself above all the other walking simulators of the time by the fact that it was amusing, full of interesting things to look at, offered several branching paths, and was something of a mind screw. Jerec liked the narrator’s British accent and it ran through his mind as he sat down to write this review.

Jerec moved Stanley through the empty office, obeying the narrator all the way to the end. On his next playthrough, he made a conscious decision to contradict the narrator and go off on his own course. With each subsequent playthrough, the narrator and Jerec were at war. Jerec remarked at how well The Stanley Parable examined and commented on the various tropes of videogame narratives when it came to choices, illusions of choice, and even how developers must think of everything a player might think of trying.

It also had something to say about replay value – in the first run, you need to input a code to open the door. In future runs, you can input the code before the narrator tells you, and beyond that the door will just open automatically to speed things along. Jerec found it interesting observing all the subtle changes in the game with each path he chose. He also enjoyed breaking the game at one point, as this is something that players will often try to do in the games they play.

There are so many layers to The Stanley Parable, and Jerec has no intention of spoiling it for you. He suggests it isn’t worth the $14.99 price tag, but with a Steam sale coming up, it might only cost a fraction of that price.

If you were the sort of child who enjoyed The Monster at the end of this Book starring Grover from Sesame Street, like Jerec was, then the Stanley Parable might just be for you. Grover will try to stop you from turning the page, just as the narrator will try to stop you from choosing the wrong path, but sometimes you can be more than just an observer in a story – sometimes you can be the actor. And sometimes when you make the wrong choice, you can start again.

It is too late for Jerec to start again.

jerec's avatar
Community review by jerec (June 17, 2017)

On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.

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hastypixels posted June 19, 2017:

"Well, wasn't that clever?" Hastypixels typed, quoting his own thoughts into a Feedback box in response to Jerec's amusing, insightful writeup. Was it truly a review, or a piece of narrative prose?

That was for the reader to decide, Hastypixels concluded, grateful he could end his comment.
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jerec posted June 19, 2017:

Hastypixels' comment brought a smile to Jerec's face.

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