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Review: The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe

5 May 2022
0

Oh, hello there! Welcome, welcome, everyone, it’s so good to see you here! We’re happy to welcome you to this unprecedented moment of gaming journalism excellence, because it’s high time – high past time, some might say – to welcome you to Gamer Escape’s Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe! At long last, you, the fine and discerning consumer, can be given the necessary information to inform your potential purchase of this intellectually stimulating bit of video game entertainment!

Now, of course, we needn’t tell you the basics, but we shall just the same. The original Stanley Parable was, of course, the most notable video game released in 2013, beloved the world over for its insightful narrative, gripping gameplay, and of course, its handsome and endlessly talented narrator. And now the minds behind the original Stanley Parable have delivered this enhanced and expanded edition unto an adoring public!

But not content to simply make this improved edition available to players who played the original on the personal computer, this updated version is in fact playable on the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 4 and 5, the Xbox One and Xbox Series X, all of the major platforms you could possibly want! Surely this review (which of course was played on the personal computer out of nostalgia) will mention all of that as well as diving into the nuance and mysteries that are afforded to us by the Stanley Parable!

Oh, I can hardly contain my excitement. This is truly a combination of multiple artistic talents in one places, and I have no doubt that this review shall fully justify all this buildup! Well, let’s not wait any longer, out with it, let’s continue. Presenting… Gamer Escape’s Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe!

Gamer Escape’s Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe

good

I… I’m sorry, what? Wait a moment, what was that? That’s not… that isn’t a review! This isn’t a review at all! This is one word, how could one word possibly express the depth and intelligence to be found within The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe?! Did the reviewer even play the game? How in the world could…

Oh, I see what’s happened here, we accidentally found the draft of the review! Well, that’s truly shameful. Someone ought to be keeping a closer watch on the site as a whole, this is the sort of thing that could color one’s entire perception of the game as a whole! Come along, then, let’s quickly make our way to the actual review post-haste, lest you get the wrong impression of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe.

It would be really a pity if you misunderstood the subtle interplay that the game provides with its story by misreading that draft, let me tell you! The whole joy of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is, of course, that the gameplay is inextricably tied with its narrative, that your only means of interaction are very occasionally clicking on things while primarily either going along with or disobeying the commands of the aforementioned quite handsome and charming narrator. Yes, it’s true that a given run through the game is often only a few minutes long, but the whole time it is playing with the idea of a larger narrative, the very notion of diegetic storytelling in video games!

And let me just say that if that made you roll your eyes, perhaps there’s a less challenging game out there for you. Something on your phone, hmm?

Ah, never mind, enough woolgathering from me, I have found it! Leave all that nonsense behind, don’t listen to me, listen to this, the actual version of Gamer Escape’s Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe!

Gamer Escape’s Actual Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (We Really Mean It This Time)

pretty good

Well now someone’s having a laugh.

All right, I swear, there was an actual review here! Hold on, let me find it, I’ll just… shuffle through the code a bit, hmm? Please, don’t go anywhere, just be patient, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe.

It really is an important game, you understand. The first game was a classic, you know that. But Ultra Deluxe is more than just putting on some new textures and porting the whole thing to Unity instead of the Source engine, don’t you understand? I know you might think that’s all that’s going on, but there’s actually something very important going on here! You see, the original Stanley Parable was all about finding different ways to make the story twist and turn even with very limited interaction, it was a commentary on the very nature of choice in video games, and so if you’ve played the original you likely think that you already know how this one will work, do you understand?

But assuming that is – hang on, I think I’ve found the actual review, let’s fire this up…

new ideas for hot dogs: slow-cooked chutney, raisins?, BBQ cheese, buckets

Nope, not the review. False alarm, I’ll keep looking.

Yes, as I was saying, The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is all about subverting expectations. The first few times through will feel very familiar to anyone who has played the original (and this does contain the entirety of the endings from the original release) but once you get into the new content, oh, it’s delightful. Indeed, it’s likely that right from the beginning the game is going to surprise you with something you believed was wholly irrelevant before you discover that there’s another layer of the game operating there, as well.

It’s all so very clever and original, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself torn between wanting to reveal all of the little secrets and jokes and strange meta-narratives the game develops and not wanting to spoil them to prospective other players! As always, half of the fun is simply seeing how you can push the game, what things you can do that you’re not supposed to be able to do, playing with the game in new ways. It’s that interplay that’s interesting, you see, the fact that you can wring so much meta-narrative out of a game where you really just walk about and very occasionally click on things.

Oh! Oh, I do believe I have it! Hold on, here we go, yes, there it is! Thank you for your patience, now we can finally have Gamer Escape’s Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe!

For Real This Time, Gamer Escape’s Actual Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (We Know The Past Few Times Didn’t Work Out But This One Is Serious) (The Review Definitely Starts Here)

Honse Stalker 2000 is easily the finest game I have ever played about stalking horses who have psychic powers. You might think that sounds like a pretty niche concept, but let me assure you that I-

That’s not even a review of anything like The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe! Did… did the reviewer get the assignment? Did he understand the narrative demands of the game? Oh, I hope he did. Oh, this is dreadful.

We’ve spent all this time and we haven’t even talked about the sublime voice work of Kevan Brighting, the distinctly dulcet tones that made the original Stanley Parable so noteworthy. It’s shocking to me that we haven’t even gotten to mention that! Surely the fact that he spends the majority of the game as a one-man show, narrating Stanley’s adventure, at turns furious, capricious, insulted, humorous, and welcoming… surely that deserves a mention? I daresay that sounds more interesting than stalking psychic horses, I’ll tell you that much.

Here, look, we can even be fair. The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe can take criticism. You could, for example, point out that perhaps there is no avoiding the fact that while the graphics are serviceable, they definitely have not gotten much more than a lick of paint and a high-resolution upscale. It’s not a crippling issue, but it seems fair to point out, yes? Of course the many new things created throughout the game are of high quality, but when much of the game still takes place in Stanley’s old office, you could be forgiven for thinking it was all a bit… familiar, let’s say.

And perhaps it’s even worth pointing out that the game is not for everyone, that it does require a willingness to play along with the metatextual nature of the game, hmm? That’s fair! That’s an actual review! A good sight better than whatever we’ve dredged up here, I’d say.

Oh, bother. Well, here, I’ve found the last thing that might be the actual review. I must admit that my hopes are currently at the rock-bottom, but we’ve come all this way, we might as well see if this one finally delivers. Tally-ho and so forth.

Really, Utterly, Truly, Gamer Escape’s Actual For Real Review of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (You Might Not Believe Us But We’re Being Serious This Time) (I Know We Said We Were Serious Before But Those Were Bluffs) (This One Isn’t, Though)

In the end, if there are any criticisms to be leveled at The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe, it’s simply that we cannot uncross a river. We cannot go back in time to a point where The Stanley Parable doesn’t exist and go in totally blind to this experience; either by osmosis or actual play experience, we already know about the game’s odd narrative twists and turns as the game plays with our expectations. While the Ultra Deluxe remake does its best to introduce new wrinkles (and succeeds in many places), at the end of the day, it feels more like a familiar old friend than something bracing and never-before-seen.

But so what? The glory of The Stanley Parable was always that it was a game supremely confident in itself, giving you branching choices that were not choices, inviting you to push up against the boundaries of its world and see how far you could go. The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe expands those boundaries and gives you new things to explore, and in the process it managed to surprise me even as someone who had picked over the original game quite extensively. While it may not be as truly groundbreaking as the original, The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is a must-play for fans of the original – and if you’ve never experienced the game, it’s the perfect place to learn what made the original so brilliant while finding a number of new twists.

…well, I’ll be! There was a review after all! There it is! The end of the review!

…hold on, though. Where’s the rest?

Is that all there is?

They didn’t even mention the bucket! Hang on, this is all wrong. Don’t stop me here, we still need to


~ Final Score: 9/10 ~


Review copy purchased by reviewer for PC. All screenshots courtesy of Crows Crows Crows.