Review of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe by

In 2013, The Stanley Parable marked its time with a work that deftly broke the fourth wall. Here it is again in a modernized version.

In 2013, a year after the release of Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable added its brick to the still-stuttering edifice of Walking Simulator. A standalone version of an old Half-Life 2 mod, Davey Wreden and William Pugh’s creation becomes a now-iconic embodiment of the illusion of choice. With a bewildering ingenuity in level design, but also an impactful simplicity, the title is a Madeleine de Proust for any lover of the narrative genre. And its Ultra Deluxe Edition in no way spoils the sweet memories of early gamers.

generous gift

Is there any point in jumping into The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe Edition if you’re already thoroughly familiar with the original work? Yes. Even before the intro, you’ll be asked if you’ve played through the 2013 game before, so as not to force too many sequences on you. The experience is intact, retaining its special aura, but being filled with new levels and ramifications. Newcomers are also very well received; the additional content will not reach them until the corridors of The Stanley Parable are sufficiently explored. The game also improves visually and implements some accessibility additions, including universal text translation and color blindness options.

The basis of the story is laid again; Stanley, employee number 427 of a public company, competes in unrelenting servitude to press keys on a keyboard. The model student silently responds to the commands scrolling on his monitor until the day no more instructions appear on the screen. When Stanley finally turns his back on his workplace, he discovers a deserted open space. And then the impeccable voice of actor Kevan Brighting returns to inhabit the places of his presence so attractive.

always shining

Armed with his truely tongue-in-cheek humor, the omniscient and charismatic character of the narrator tells the story of Stanley and guides you along the paths he traces. If you already met him in 2013, he will still remember it. And when he asks you to take the right door, while the left one is also accessible, the allegory of illusory free will that made The Stanley Parable such a spectacular experience comes to life with fond memories. In such a tiny environment, tirelessly traversed, the game further multiplies the skills of level design. And since he knows how to adapt to his time, he satirizes his time, discussing the evolution of the video game landscape, winking in turn. There are still morals and metaphors that are difficult to decipher in certain industries. But that also accounts for the nebulous charm of the title.

Surely the regulars are already used to the narrator’s tricks. The mechanic is now expected to be exploited as a worthy legacy by productions including There Is No Game: WrongDimension in a decade. So newcomers can have a hard time considering the game as truly unique and can only imagine how unique it must have been in its day. But Davey Wreden’s adventure still manages to surprise us. The narrator acts as a unit that never left the halls of The Stanley Parable; Its lines intelligently adapt to your movements, its actions really seem to be determined by your movements. And an always exciting duel begins, in which players and storytellers try to tame each other. Only a few unfortunate loading times cloud the ride. In total, you can explore the experience in two hours as well as in six hours. The universe seems to redouble its mysteries and willingly invites you to unravel them. Restart the game and you’ll be treated to some personalized greetings in the menu. He knows when you come to visit him and almost thanks you for it.


strong points

  • A modern version that is definitely worth the return
  • A level design that is as ingenious as it is surprising
  • The narrator, his charisma and his remarks
  • Well-controlled replayability
  • Fun

weak points

  • A game that is necessarily less unique than it was then
  • loading time

Always awesome, funny and addicting, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is definitely worth revisiting the cult experience of 2013. Today it’s still expanding with a level design that is still clever and surprising. And what a pleasure to rediscover the narrator’s unrelenting humor.


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