Wednesday 31 December, 2014
This is one of the most interesting games (or interactive fictions or whatever) I have ever played (or interacted with).
The narrator tells the story of Stanley (your character), a regular guy working in a regular office. One day Stanley realized that no one is at work but him. He sets off to find out where everyone is.
The narrator tells you what Stanley is thinking, and tells you what Stanley is doing (and will do). "When Stanley approached a room with two doors, he took the door on the left." Aha! But I went through the door on the right! "Stanley purposefully got off track and decided to go to the employee lounge instead..." I am floored at how the narrator responds to your decisions. Basically, he has a "default" story, but it can branch (and branch far, like change a whole lot) depending on the choices you make at various decision points.
Apparently I've played the game three times already (it's short). The first time I got what I guess is called the "confusion" ending. I kept breaking the narrator's instructions and the fiction just got weirder and weirder. It was incredible. The next time through, I followed all his instructions. Then I followed all but the final one. Each time a different ending. I will find them all.
I think the game makes a statement on player choice in video games. Usually, the story is just the background to the action. Sometimes story is foregrounded, but even then it is typically linear and the outcome (or two or three outcomes) are predetermined. Players are rarely able to make decisions seriously affecting the story. In the Stanley Parable, I felt like I was writing the story as I was going along, or rather, the story was adapting to what I was doing. Obviously, all options are coded into the game, but it is so ridiculously smart and the outcomes are nothing that you would expect.
I cannot say enough amazing things about this. I am showing it to everyone who hasn't played it yet. Also, do the door achievement. That's the first thing I did in the game and was rewarded with the best achievement I've ever achieved in games.