In 2013, The Stanley Parable marked its time with a work that cleverly broke the fourth wall. Here it is back in a modernized version.
A year after the release of Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable added its stone in 2013 to the still stammering edifice of the Walking Simulator. A stand-alone of an old Half-Life 2 mod, Davey Wreden and William Pugh’s creation becomes a now cult embodiment of the illusion of choice. With a confusing ingenuity in its level-design but also an effective simplicity, the title is a Madeleine de Proust for any lover of the narrative genre. And its Ultra Deluxe edition in no way taints the sweet memories kept by the first players.
Is there any point in getting into the Ultra Deluxe Edition of The Stanley Parable when you’re already thoroughly familiar with the original work? Yes. Even before the intro, you’ll be asked if you’ve ever gone through the 2013 game, so as not to force too many sequences on you. The experience is intact, retains its special aura, but is filled with new levels and branches. Newcomers are also very well received; the additional content will only reach them once the corridors of The Stanley Parable have been sufficiently explored. The game also improves visually and implements some accessibility additions including in-universe text translation and options for color blindness.
The base of the story is again laid; Stanley, employee number 427 of a public limited company applies in an implacable servitude to press keys on a keyboard. The model student responds mutely to the orders scrolling on his monitor, until the day when no more instructions appear on the screen. When Stanley finally turns his back on his workstation, he discovers a deserted open space. And then the impeccable voice of actor Kevan Brighting returns to inhabit the places of his ever so attractive presence.
Provided with his faithful licked humor, the omniscient and charismatic character of the narrator tells the story of Stanley and guides you towards the paths he draws. If you have already met him in 2013, he will still remember it. And when he summons you to take the right door while the left is also accessible, the allegory of illusory free will that made The Stanley Parable a spectacular experience is recalled to our fond memories. In such a tiny environment crossed tirelessly, the game further multiplies the prowess of level design. And since he knows how to adapt to his time, he satirizes his time, discusses the evolution of the video game landscape, winks in succession. There are still morals and metaphors that are hard to decipher in certain branches. But it is also what makes the nebulous charm of the title.
Certainly, the regulars are already accustomed to the tricks of the narrator. The mechanics are now expected, exploited in a decade of productions including There Is No Game:WrongDimension as a worthy heir. So, newcomers may have a hard time considering the game as frankly singular and can only imagine how unique it must have been in its time. But the adventure of Davey Wreden still manages to surprise us. The narrator acts as an entity that has never left the halls of The Stanley Parable; its lines intelligently adapt to your movements, its actions seem truly governed by yours. And begins an always enthralling duel during which player and narrator try to tame the other. Only a few unfortunate loading times come to stain the journey. In all, you can explore the experience in two hours as well as six hours. The universe seems to redouble its secrets and willingly invites you to unlock them. Relaunch the game and you will be treated to some personalized greetings in the menu. He knows when you come back to visit him and almost thanks you for it.
- A modern version that is definitely worth the return
- A level design still as ingenious and still surprising
- The narrator, his charisma and his remarks
- Well-controlled replayability
- A game necessarily less unique than at the time
- Loading times
Always ingenious, funny and captivating, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is definitely worth lingering over again in 2013’s cult experience. Today, it still expands with a level-design that is still clever and surprising. And what a pleasure to rediscover the implacable humor of the narrator.
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By TiraxaJournalist jeuxvideo.com
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