The Stanley Parable is an interactive story in a surreal office environment with multiple endings and decisions that affect the story.
About the gameplay: The story is primarily presented to the player via the voiceover of the game’s narrator, who explains that the protagonist Stanley works in an office building, tasked to monitor data coming on a computer screen and press buttons appropriately without question. One day that screen goes blank. Stanley, unsure what to do, starts to explore the building and finds it devoid of people.
At this stage, the story splits off in numerous possibilities, based on the player’s choices. The narrator continues the story, but when the player comes to an area where a choice is possible, the narrator will suggest which route Stanley will take.
About this video: The Stanley Parable is an interactive story modification built on the Source game engine, developed by Davey Wreden and released in July 2011. A high-definition remastered stand-alone version, including new story elements, was developed by Wreden and Source modeler William Pugh under the Galactic Cafe development team name. The remake was announced and approved via the Steam Greenlight process in 2012, and released in October 2013 for Microsoft Windows and December 2013 for OS X.
While both the mod and the remake use the first-person perspective common to other Source engine mods, there are no combat or other action-based sequences. Instead, the player guides Stanley, the game’s protagonist, through a surreal environment while the narrator, voiced by British actor Kevan Brighting, delivers exposition. The player has the opportunity to make numerous decisions on which paths to take, and because at times the narrator says what Stanley will do next, the player can choose to ignore the narration and make a different choice. Every choice made by the player is commented on by the narrator, and depending on the choices the player makes, they will encounter different endings to the game before it restarts.
Wreden envisioned the game after considering that most major video game titles confine the user to its rules, and considered how to construct a narrative to challenge that notion. Outside of Brighting’s voice work of the narrator, Wreden built the modification himself, initially as a personal project for his career goals but soon expanding to a wider release once he had shown it to friends and other players. The modification received critical attention as a new variation of creating interactive fiction within a game engine, and provided a thought-provoking narration to discuss with others on the nature of choice and predestination within video games.
The remake expanded the experience, recreating many of the original mod’s decisions within new environments while adding several more story pathways that could be followed. The standalone game has received similar critical praise from journalists favoring the expanded narrative and commentary on player choice and decision-making in modern video games.