Sunday, 13 October 2013

Indie Gaming: The Stanley Parable (demo)

Who has time for a demo any more? Who even makes them? They used to be a big deal, a way for developers to push their latest product on an unassuming populace and convince them to part with their hard earned cash. Somewhere, somehow, that idea got lost. It was easier, cheaper, to make a trailer instead. Thirty seconds of scripted events can make a game seem rather fantastic really, and even the most terrible of gaming experiences can surely have a few moments of beauty to dazzle the unsuspecting gaming public into pre-ordering.

The game is released on October 17th 2013. But play the demo first!
The Stanley Parable demo is different. It's not even a demo really... or is it?

Wait here. Or don't. It's just a sign.
You should play it now, before you finish reading this.

NOTICE: Please play The Stanley Parable Demo!
No, really, I mean it. Play it. I forbid anyone to read any further without playing The Stanley Parable demo.

Possible side-effects of not playing the demo.
Ok? Finished?

It means more about the mistakes you make in the game, but you could also take some time to think about your mistakes in life also.
I'm not sure I believe you.

The most important room, but we'll get to that later on.
I'm going to trust you though. I shouldn't, because I know what you're like. But I'll trust you anyway.

So. You should probably play it again. Just to be sure you saw everything!

It was exactly what I expected, and yet managed to amaze me at every turn. I played the original Stanley Parable source mod a few years ago, and thought it was excellent. The way they had tied the narration to the game, making you think about your choices and yet being able to adapt to them, was incredible. As much as I enjoyed Dear Esther, I felt like The Stanley Parable had been unfairly lost in it's wake. The similarities are few, and for all those that say that Dear Esther isn't a game (I may have to do a "What is a game?" post at some point), The Stanley Parable is so very different in that respect. Indeed, it had a whole variety of endings, which were dependent on your choices. It was a game so good I replayed it (with different choices) four times in the space of a weekend.

There's not that many games that will draw me in like that, but the charm of The Stanley Parable is accentuated by the narrator, who guides you through your experience. It is almost more appropriate to call it an experience rather than a game. The demo continues in just the same vein, full of cleverly constructed scenes, wonderful narration and a glorious confusion that leads to me having a huge smile on my face.

I was wondering what form The Stanley Parable would take, a straight up hi-def remake? or something a bit more? From the looks of the demo I would think the latter, but how much similarity it will have to the brilliant original I couldn't tell you.

For the uninitiated, The Stanley Parable (original version at least) puts you in the shoes of Stanley, and you begin at work. You soon realise that you are alone. Well, apart from the man who is narrating your life, but that's normal, isn't it? What remains is a tale of exploration and discovery, and a tale of choice. To say any more would be to spoil the experience, but I know from my playthroughs I am still not sure I saw everything, let alone what the "right" ending was (is there ever a correct ending?).

You will never be so happy to feel like a rat in a maze. But when the cheese is a metaphor, how do you know when you've reached it?

The Stanley Parable is on Steam in but a few days time. I await it with eager anticipation!

Seriously! Play the demo first.

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