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The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Review – A Tale in Liminal Space

8.5
Reviewed on PC

Check out our review of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

Not many games have stuck in the minds of gamers like The Stanley Parable when it was released. While its indie nature meant many may have missed it when it was released back in 2013, the commentary provided on the gaming industry at the time was substantial. And while many of its comments no longer hold up as well in 2022, it’s definitely a great piece from a bygone era.

However, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, aims to speak up on new issues plaguing the industry in a humorous light. Its very existence is a comment on the idea of editions, DLCs, and expanded content. While it’s easy to understand for newcomers who have only heard of The Stanley Parable, many of the new jokes and content are almost better for returning players.

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For those unaware, The Stanley Parable is a story about a man named Stanley. The game opens with Stanley exiting his office, to find his co-workers have disappeared, and a narrated voice tells him what to do. You as the player make choices, either by following the narrator or by doing the opposite. The Stanley Parable’s very illusion of choice is part of the experience. Despite feeling like you’re making a different choice, it’s all part of the game design.

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Review 427 Office
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It’s hard to avoid spoiling The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe without ruining some of the surprising elements of the game. Even the fact that I’ve told you that there’s an illusion of choice is somewhat amidst spoiler territory, which is why reviewing this game is a challenge. All you really need to know about The Stanley Parable is that it leaves you wondering about everything you encountered. What is real? What’s not?

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The Narrator, voiced by Kevan Brighting, is an excellent host to yourself and Stanley as you cross out the many, many endings the game entails from your mental checklist. His dry, witty, and sarcastic tone of voice is prevalent throughout the experience and is an essential part of the story and gameplay. He’s always there from each story beat, giving you and Stanley your next instruction, whether you choose to take it or not. And without his comedic sensibilities, The Stanley Parable would be a horrifying narrative on the lack of importance we hold in the universe, alongside its commentary on the industry.

Every element is particularly crafted to create a sense of adventure through liminal spaces.

And The Stanley Parable carries humor as its main tone throughout. I rarely laugh at video games but The Stanley Parable, at the worst, had me giving a giggle. At the best, I was laughing fairly hard. There are achievements that reward you for attempting to jump, or not playing the game for 10 years. In an age where video games want you to be locked to them with Battle Passes and constant content, The Stanley Parable actively tells you to not play the game for a decade to 100% it.

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Review
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Why? Because it’s The Stanley Parable. There’s no rhyme or reason to what it wants you to do, other than for simple enjoyment. It isn’t asking anything more of you, which is a pleasant surprise, to say the least. Every element is particularly crafted to create a sense of adventure through liminal spaces. If you decide to play the game in its simplest nature, it’s simply a fun, light-hearted romp through an office building. But if you decide to break through the cracks, it’s a dark comedy that entangles you in everything between life and death, the nature of full-time work, how much gaming has evolved over the years, and our very existence itself.

Everything from the game itself, the achievements, booting the game each time, and the marketing has been crafted (or should I say, re-crafted) to establish The Stanley Parable’s tone throughout.

Before I close out this review, I wanted to mention that it can’t be a long review. Saying too much completely ruins the experience, and a game like this only comes a few times in a generation. Needless to say, The Stanley Parable and its expanded edition, Ultra Deluxe, are essential games to play at least once, if only for their commentary on the Gaming industry, and narrative storytelling in general. It’s basically a video game version of one of those “choose your own adventure” books, limited only by the design of the experience itself.

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Review Cargo Lift
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Crows Crows Crows have stuck the landing at bringing back The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe for both newcomers and returning fans alike. Everything from the game itself, the achievements, booting the game each time, and the marketing has been crafted (or should I say, re-crafted) to establish The Stanley Parable’s tone throughout. It’s a remarkable game, which can get a bit tedious towards the end of your playtime, but nevertheless, is an incredible experience that never ends. The end is never the end is never the end is never the end.

A Review Code was provided by the Publisher

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Review
Conclusion
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe brings back the original experience in its very best form, with additional content that tells a compelling narrative on its own, but also provides a great commentary on the world surrounding it. Callum enjoyed this game.
PROS
Stanley's adventure is as funny as it was in 2013
Kevan Brighting's narration is phenomenal and core to the experience
CONS
Can feel slightly tedious towards the end
8.5
Reviewed on PC

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