Freedom in video games is an illusion. Your creators know it, we know it and you know it. When Bioshock made a very cursory reference to this in 2007, that game was praised for “its clever way of criticizing the medium”. You have to understand that we weren’t very used to meta-narratives back then and that’s why we were surprised.
We had to wait until 2013 for The Stanley Parable and his hilarious satire of video game narrative tropes made a real critique of the way we “get fooled” when we play. Now, almost a decade later, this game returns with changes and novelties in a new version called The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe what do you expect…
What is it that you want?
This is the story of a man named Stanley…
Stanley worked in a large building where he was employee #427. His job was simple. He would sit at his desk and press buttons on a keyboard. Commands came to him via a monitor that told him which buttons to press, how long to press them, and in what order. That’s what employee #427 did every day of every month of every year. Though others might find it somewhat tedious, Stanley rejoiced every time he received orders, as if he had been created for exactly this job.
And Stanley was happy.
Everyone who has played the original version of The Stanley Parable throughout these years —or the ‘mod’ of Half-Life 2 that gave rise to it— you know this intro by heart. They also know that the protagonist must get up from his post to investigate why the orders stopped and discovers that all of his companions have disappeared. They know this because a narrator with a soothing voice and elegant British accent narrates everything that happens, step by step, over and over again.
And they also know how important this moment is.
The narrator says that Stanley entered the door on the left, but nothing prevents us from entering the door on the right. Disobeying the narrator, “going against the story,” opens up a myriad of possibilities. This allows the game to use its fine sense of humor to explore the illusion of freedom in video games, the relationship between developer and player, the goal of narrative in interactive works, and the more absurd elements of “gamer culture.”. We can find almost two dozen endings, each one with something interesting or funny to say.
The Stanley Parable It seemed destined to be a cult classic, but rave reviews from the press and player feedback made it a hit. When an “expanded version” was announced that would also come to consoles, many thought it would be a simple remaster with a couple of extra dialogues, but The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe It’s much more than that.
What are the changes and novelties in The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe?
When we start the game, it asks us if we played the original version. If we answer no, there won’t be much difference from the 2013 game until we discover various endings. Then the door to new content will open for us. Literally.
We are not going to say what this new content is because we do not want to do ‘spoilers’, but we can say that it takes into account all the time that has passed and the evolution of the video game industry. This is not “just” a ‘remake’, a remaster or an expansion. It is and is not a sequel. Ultra Deluxe is an evolution of the unique nature of The Stanley Parable to turn it into…something else.
How hard is it to write a review? The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe without making ‘spoilers’! But you have to do it like this. Even if you don’t like what this game has to offer, it’s something worth discovering for yourself.
If the original version was based on the player’s relationship with the video game and its creators, the “new content” focuses on the creators’ relationship with their own video game, their success and what the industry expects of them. His satire of the ‘hype’ culture that defines the gaming news cycle isn’t new, but it is the first time we’ve experienced it from a creators’ point of view. Even the home screen and achievements are part of the joke/message.
These changes also affect how we engage with the game. The narrator goes from being an “adversarial” element to becoming a kind of ally or partner, someone for whom all this is also new. Voice actor Kevan Brighting does a fantastic job and settles into the role like he hasn’t left it years ago.. He remains the heart and soul of this title.
Among the novelties of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe there are at least a dozen new endings and changes to some of the old ones. It can be said that it “duplicates” the content of the original version, but this is misleading. There are new and very colorful areas that are worth going through, but most of the time in the new content is spent touring the same office building that we know so well.
Finding some of the new endings means doing much the same thing we did in the original, but with new elements that push us to see if something different happens.
A bucket of cold water to the expectations of the players
Those elements that we are referring to are the main ‘joke’ of this expanded version/remaster/’remake’/sequel, but it is a joke that perhaps goes on too long. Unlike other games that “obfuscate” their meta-narrative so that players have to analyze and discuss it with other people, The Stanley Parable and your version changes Ultra Deluxe they are quite direct with what they want to say.
Although it doesn’t take long for us to understand its message, it spreads so much that it reaches a point where we can get tired of the same idea
The version we tested of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is the Nintendo Switch. This one works quite well and runs at 60 frames per second, even in handheld mode. The Joy-Con analog controls are still not the best for three-dimensional movement, but this is not a game that demands precision and that never becomes a problem.
Perhaps a bit of immersion is lost by playing with a controller instead of using a mouse and keyboard, as the sound of the buttons being pressed and the analogy of Stanley’s work misses the point. Also is true that they will enjoy this title more if they have had a few years to reflect on the content of the original version before jumping to what’s new.
But it doesn’t matter if they play on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch or in a bucket. This is a great experience that all video game fans should try. It will help them sharpen their critical sense about their favorite ‘hobby’.
The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe it is a supremely interesting work and almost impossible to define. It’s equal parts remake, expansion, and sequel, grappling with new gaming themes and exploring them with humor. It’s no longer as “fresh” as it was nearly a decade ago, but it’s a must-have for fans of the original because—even if its new content feels “short”—it’s an important addition and evolution to the world of Stanley and the narrator. .
Reviewed with a digital copy of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe for Nintendo Switch provided by Crows Crows Crows.