Game Review: The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

Release date: 2022
Version played: PlayStation 5 in 2022

This is a review about a game which tells the story of a man named Stanley. Originally released onto Steam in 2013, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is an updated remake/remaster and sort-of-stealth-semi-sequel released onto modern consoles and PC in 2022. Taking control of Stanley, a basic office worker, players must try to discover what has happened to his suddenly disappeared colleagues, all the while as an omnipotent narrator explains what is going on to Stanley… and you, the player. I played the original game many years ago, so a lot of this game was known to me already. That said, there is a lot more that wasn’t, and even more still that has been added or changed. Remember, the end is never the end is never…

+ the narrator, Kevan Brighting, is still perfect. His (its?) instantaneous reaction to what Stanley does, and the sometimes wildly varying tones he uses throughout always impress, especially the times in which you really think you have outsmarted him. Pro tip: you haven’t
+ the story is only as convoluted as you want it to be, and it is literally up to you where the story goes (to a certain extent). This is a game about following the rules, after all
+ the new stuff will eventually come at you, including some really good additions and innovations. There is some very clever meta commentary on the games industry as a whole, and some (intentionally or otherwise) quite spooky scenarios. I really liked the Ultra Deluxe content

thestanleyparable_ultradeluxe_2
It’s hard to get screenshots that show off the game, because so much of it will only happen if you let it.

– the bulk of the game, especially at first, is simply a prettier version of what was already released, with a few small differences here and there. If you have played the original game then it may be somewhat of a chore getting through some early story beats. That said, those story beats themselves are still a lot of fun
– it’s a ballsy move to release a not-sequel that is not a sequel, and then complain in game that there is no sequel, and then to say there doesn’t need to be a sequel in what turns out to be a semi-sequel. Your own mileage will vary on whether that’s clever or far too convoluted

> As I played through this in crisp, modern graphics I had the realisation that when I watched Severance, this game is exactly what I was thinking of.

Should you play this game: If you never played the base game in 2013, this is a perfect place to start. If you did play the original, then this might not quite be as rewarding, but there is still enough to justify a purchase.

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