Friday, April 11, 2014

The Stanley Parable

Last night John and I played The Stanley Parable, a short-but-sweet, absolutely hysterical, and completely un-replayable game available on Steam for the PC:

Don't let the PC part scare you off, though, console peeps; you can always play with a regular controller instead of the keyboard, like we did.

I've always been a strictly console girl, but over Christmas John convinced me we needed a PC gaming rig for the enhanced graphics. Since then the only thing I've played on it is the ultra-beautiful BioShock:Infinite, while John has become hardcore-addicted to modding his Skyrim houses. (I would roll my eyes here, buy DANG that game looks good with all the enhancement mods! The flowers! The waterfalls! The steampunky floating houses!)

But, I digress.

I've wanted to break into some of the quirkier PC games for a while, so when John said he found one we should play together, I was psyched.

Now, The Stanley Parable is not a game in the traditional sense. There are no points. There are no bad guys. You need no skill whatsoever to play, and it's almost impossible to "lose."

Do I have your attention, everyone who thinks they're bad at video games? :D

Also unlike most games, everyone watching The Stanley Parable will have just as much fun as the person playing, so I highly recommend playing in pairs at the very least, taking turns with the controller. Even better, get a whole group together!

Ok, so what's the game about? Well, here's the trailer:

Imagine a choose-your-own adventure novel narrated by the The Guide from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A narrator who interacts with you, and frequently responds to your actions with a heavy dose of snark. Your actions tell the story, so the real fun of this game is uncovering all the different stories you can tell. And if you think it's tedious "starting over" after each storyline, think again. The game changes with each restart, so it's more like a continuation than a total do-over.

The graphics are rich and detailed, even though you're mostly just wandering soulless office corridors and abandoned meeting rooms. It'll remind you a bit of the Aperture offices from Portal 2, and sometimes it looks downright creepy, but the narrator ensures you're laughing your way down every dark corridor.

No, really, it's not scary. I promise.

The game is short, and can be finished in about two hours. I recommend taking your time and investigating everything you see, though, for added laughs:

If you really take your time and explore every possible ending and some of the locked achievements, you can stretch the game out to four hours like we did, but that's kind of wringing the game dry. (And I still can't believe we played that long; the hours really flew by.) Like I said: a pretty short game.

Which brings me to the only downside of The Stanley Parable, and no, it's not the length. More that, like a good mystery novel, once you know the ending (or endings) there's little-to-no incentive to go back and experience it again. And at $15 on Steam, that's like a super pricey movie rental.

That said, John tells me he's seen it on sale a few times for half-off, so maybe keep an eye out for another Steam sale. Or just bite the bullet and pay the $15, because it really is a fantastic game.

Oh, and I won't spoil anything, but there is one particular storyline with the most amazing and completely unexpected cameos. I was yelling "No way!!" at the screen and laughing with sheer delight. Don't go looking it up, because spoilers will kill the fun, but just so you won't miss it: when presented with a blue door, go through it three times. The third time is trickier. That is all.

As for game-play "strategy," I advise being as contrary as possible for the first few passes, because it's funnier that way. And after you think you've found all the different endings, go online and look up the ones you missed. There are also a couple of mildly ridiculous achievements you can unlock, for added kicks.

K, that's it for me! Hope I've convinced some of you non-gamer types to jump in with this one, or my fellow console-only types to branch out a bit. And you PC gamers, well, odds are you already know about this one, right? So you can just tell me what I should play next in the comments. Deal?


  1. I adore The Stanley Parable. Storywise there's not much like it. I'm sure you've already got track of the bigger action games, so no mention there, but here's my list of must-try-indie-games >_>

    thomas was alone
    gone home
    the yawhg
    Don't Starve

    I have a feeling that in particular the oddity of Tiny&Big could be appreciated.

    ...also, The Cave was quite cute/funny, but the co-op is kinda botched. One person will always be bored. And single player it's annoying to move all characters around yourself.

    1. My daughter is playing Don't Starve right in front of me (on the PS4) right now!! It is an awesome game...

  2. I'm not too much of a gamer, but if you liked The Stanley Parable I would recommend Gone Home. It's a bit creepy at first, but it's definitely worth playing. Like The Stanley Parable, it's not exactly a traditional style game. I recommend it to all my non-gamer friends out there, and to pretty much anyone who has a PC and likes a good story.

  3. I'm not the biggest PC gamer, but I played Gone Home a couple months ago and second melladh's recommendation. It's a beautiful story that will make you feel all the feels.

  4. Jen, after seeing you post about several games you've enjoyed, I HAVE to recommend Quantum Connundrum to you. It's got a similar puzzle-like feel to Portal, although instead of creating portals, you're manipulating various aspects of physics in a room (weight and density, time, and gravity) in order to make your way through a crazy mansion owned by the main character's uncle, who sort of narrates the game in a GLaDOS-like fashion. Even more fun: the uncle is voiced by John de Lancie, better known as Q on Star Trek. (And, I'm told, Discord on MLP.)

    Seriously, I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm fairly certain you'll love it!


  5. Guild Wars 2. It is more complicated than Stanley Parable but the graphics are amazing, the community is awesome and they update content very frequently. It's currently half price through Sunday and I believe you can use an X box controller to play, though I've never tried. The game is filled with little stories throughout the world and encourages exploration to level. Just listening to the conversations going on around you is pure entertainment to me.

    1. My favorite MMO ever! Can't stress enough how lovely the community is for this game. <3

  6. I think you might like the game Bastion. Gorgeous soundtrack, fun sense of humor, and great narration. I'd also second Gone Home and Thomas Was Alone.

    Have you played the DLC for Bioshock Infinite yet? I'm about halfway through part 2 and I'm curious if you've tried it and what you think.

    1. I'm going to second Bastion. I never played it because I watched my husband and son play it to death, but it's a great game, and I have the soundtrack stuck in my head because we play it all the time.

  7. If you are looking for something to play together Octodad would probably fit the bill

  8. I've totally seen the Stanley Parable on Steam and thought about buying it a couple times, but between how short it is and the price, I never did. Guess I'll have to wait for the Steam sale and snag it

    I kind of really dislike battling in video games (not because I dislike violence, but because I'm really bad at it, and real time battle systems give me anxiety and I can't enjoy myself) even though I love RPGs, so I've been getting more into adventure games lately, and one that I have to recommend is The Longest Journey. It's only about $10 on Steam for a solid 20 hours of gameplay (disregard where it says 40. That's never going to happen). Don't let the 1999-era graphics put you off either. The world-building, voice acting, and storyline are AMAZING. Even secondary characters are well fleshed out with lives and personalities all their own. It is a point and click, so gameplay is very basic, it does drag in a few spots, and there's zero replay value, but I still recommend it whole-heartedly.

    I'm playing the sequel at the moment, and I'm not loving it as much since they added a (very clunky) battling system, but a third is in the works slated to come out later this year, and I'm hoping it'll be as good as the first.

  9. Stanley Parable was def worth the purchase. Also we got it on sale so didn't pay the whole 15 and the steam summer sale is in a few months and surely it will be on sale. Also a really fun game is Fez. The whole thing was done by one guy and it's just ridiculously awesome.

  10. Oh, I should also mention Machinarium! It's a couple of years old, point and click puzzle adventure, in a hand-drawn style. It's very pretty and peculiar. You can play the demo in your browser here

  11. Is the Stanley Parable fine for a tween who enjoys snark? I would love to play it with my son! Thanks.

    1. I think so. It's been awhile since I played it, but I can't remember anything that would be inappropriate for a tween, nor do I think the commentary will go over his head.

  12. If you would like to cry hysterically "To The Moon" which is available on Steam is an interesting and sweet (and slightly heartbreaking) little short game.

  13. The Stanley Parable is an awesome game :D so much fun (and if you're contrary like me annoying the narrator is good fun). Did you get the broom closet ending?

  14. I don't play a lot of games at all, but I loved The Stanley Parable. It was great that someone with as little skill as I could actually play it. I played it through several times and one time ended up following crazy lines all over the walls, and laughing at the crazy voice over! I love how if you don't follow instructions it gets really huffy!

  15. I just bought it! It looks like something I would totally like.

  16. I mostly play free online browser games so they are VERY short, but here's a list of a few of the very best. All have great graphics and interesting game play, none of them will take you more than an hour and many will take less.
    PonPon House (1,2, and 3 are all beautiful, complex, and worth playing)
    Anything by On of Eyezmaze, especially GrowCube
    Anything by Bart Bonte, especially Fields of Logic and Factory Balls 1,2, and 3
    Anything by Neutral Games, especially Christmas Escape 3
    Federico Rutenberg's earlier games like The Ballad of Kettineto
    The Trader of Stories and A Grain of Truth

    You can easily Google them or use a browser site like JayisGames or freegamesnews to find them.

  17. Is this a first person game? Unfortunately I can't play most of those. They make me dizzy and nauseous. It totally sucks, cause I'd love to play Skyrim and others.

    1. I totally know what you mean about first person games! But, at least on the PC, you can scroll out in Skyrim and see your character (effectively making it at 3rd person shooter).

      Lisa R

    2. You wander around and try to save yourself from certain doom. There's a ridiculously reasonable sounding VoiceOver that might not possibly be trying to be helpful. Or maybe it is? You'll have to decide for yourself.

  18. If you want an awesome pc mystery series to try, check out the Nancy Drew pc games by Her Interactive. They have nearly 30 titles, put two new games out every year, and they run very cheap on amazon.

    The best part? They are EXTREMELY re-playable. I've re-played them too many times to count. And the fan base for the series is really big.

    Do some research into which title to try first. Some are super good, some aren't good at all, some are very scary, some are very tame. They also have some free demo downloads on their website for a couple of the games.

    If you want to try an older title, I recommend Treasure in the Royal Tower, The Secret of Shadow Ranch, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, and The Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. If you want one of the newer titles, I like The Captive Curse, Shadow at the Water's Edge, Tomb of the Lost Queen, and The Phantom of Venice.

    Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now, lol! I've been playing these games for years, so I guess I'm just sort of passionate about them.

    Some trailers:

    Tomb of the Lost Queen-
    Ghost of Thornton Hall-
    The Phantom of Venice-
    Shadow at the Water's Edge-

  19. This looks so fun! I'll add my voice to Bastion as a great game (yes fighting, no blood, awesome narrator). Also Dear Esther is a walk and story game. It's gorgeous! And I didn't think I'd like playing it again, but when I watch someone else play it (very short game), I actually really enjoyed it the 2nd time. Final recommendation is Grotesque Tactics: it's like a chess game style, and really funny. All on Steam, and they're all pretty reasonably priced.

    Lisa R

  20. Both my husband and I loved playing the Stanley Parable. He had bought it first and was playing it, and I kept having to ask why he was laughing so hard. I finally got to play it myself and found out. As much fun as it was playing it, I agree about the cost being a little much for a short game that you likely won't replay. If it's on a sale, I definitely recommend it.

    I also second the suggestion for Fez- I can't remember Jen if you had mentioned playing that in the past, but if not it's a really cute puzzle game that behaves similar to a platform game but with a twist. I also saw someone mention Thomas Was Alone, which also features puzzles. You'd probably like this as well. I've really only just started playing it, but it has a good story and humorous narration to go with the different levels. I've enjoyed it so far.

    Oh, and I saw someone else mention it in the comments, but it bears repeating: if you haven't stood in the Stanley Parable broom closet, go do so now.

  21. Thank you Jen! The demo had me laughing my butt off, after I went to work the hubby bought the game and our kids played all afternoon.

  22. Love, love, LOVE the Stanley Parable. Best writing ever. And that narrator!

    I definitely second "Thomas Was Alone". It's a not-too-maddening platformer with a delightful storyline.

    For another Steam game that's high on story, easy on game mechanics, you may want to check out "Little Inferno". It *is* a bit on the darker/spookier side--think of a mild Tim Burton kinda level--but it gushes with personality and is way more engrossing than it seems like it should be. The ending could have been better, but I really loved it. It's another good one to catch on sale.

  23. Quick Question: I've just downloaded Steam for my Mac. It says that Stanley Parable is available for Mac on Steam, but a few of the tech blog reviews I've read says you also have to have Half Life 2? Can anyone confirm or deny this?

    1. The original "stanley parable" came out as a mod to HL2, but I'm pretty sure the new one doesn't require it. Try the demo, if the demo works, you shouldn't need it. The demo is also completely standalone from the game, so I recommend everyone to play that as well :)

  24. On Steam, I have bought both Home and Terraria. Home is a horror game in which you wake up in a strange house near a dead body. Play in the dark with headphones on, and the creaking doors will get you! It has very simple graphics, and costs $2.99. Terraria is an awesome game in which you mine, build houses, fight bosses and interact with NPCs. The graphics are great, and the music is really good too. Terraria costs $9.99 on Steam. I admit it, I also like Minecraft. My daughter and I share worlds and build and mine together.

  25. A snarky narrator reminds me of The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time game. My family loved that game but we could never get any of the earlier games in the series to work.

    Oh - if you are ever in the mood for an old classic and something with a unique fanbase - Commander Keen!!

    My brother and I enjoyed playing Trine2 together. Since we live on opposite sides of the country and only get to visit every few years, it was a fun way to hang out together online. He plays the first Trine with my mom sometimes but that one, unfortunately, you have to be on the same PC.

  26. Definitely recommend Gone Home. It's short but there are a TON of things you can click and look at and it's easy to miss items and storylines, so it's fun to go back and hunt them down!

  27. "Stanley Parable" sounds like a game even I might enjoy, and I don't play games. This is the only computer game I have ever played more than once:

    It's available from these guys:

  28. Jen/John! THANK YOU.
    I broke my tibia & fibula (both lower leg bones) 18 days ago... (In roller derby, I was the one who invited you to Orlando's derby league bouts, but I'm back up in the Maryland area now). So, I've been playing Portal but I seriously am either on the couch or on my bed, and sometimes get bored of Portal. (Being on crutches is really crappy for a very active person... ugh...). I'll probably break down and spend the $15 on this in a day or two ;) Thanks again! (Oh and for the MegaCon pictures! All my Florida friends were going and I was sad cause I went (and met you!) last year, so I can live variously through you ;)

  29. Seeing as how I've been reading your posts starting at the beginning, I feel no shame commenting on a post that's a year old. :D

    I don't play PC games but my favorites are oldies but goodies.

    1. Douglas Adams Starship Titanic. It's great. It's got snark and puzzles. And no scary stuff.
    2. The Myst series (Myst, Riven, Exile). Amazing graphics, good storyline, great puzzles, and no scary stuff (unless not interacting with anyone is considered scary). It's got a steampunk vibe too, I guess.

    Like I said, they're old but great games.



Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>