Sunday, January 11, 2015

3 days of...The Stanley Parable!

Representation vs. Content

This is your cage before being let loose into the maze.
As I played through The Stanley Parable by Developer Galactic Cafe, I tried to think of a way to explain the games greatest accomplishment without sounding pretentious. Essentially it boils down to this: Choice is an illusion, you and your mind are slaves to external circumstances, and any control you feel you have is entirely false or unsubstantial. Now I could go on with this topic, but the deeper I internalized the discussion the more pseudo-intellectual I felt.

This "seed" is the one I found best
represents the game visually. Also
it's one of the funniest.
Claiming the metaphor of The Stanley Parable is deep and profound is not representing the game correctly I believe. I've seen article after article talk about the concepts that the game brings to the forefront and how they are applied when it comes to games. However the concept of the absence of choice has been around for centuries, millennia even in real life. What The Stanley Parable does well is represent that philosophy in a way that has never been achieved before.

The illusion of choice can be represented in painting by a mouse or a man in a maze. It can be represented by song lyrics describing the futility of life. And it is now described in full detail by a British voice in The Stanley Parable.

There are constant thematic reminders that you are essentially a mouse trapped in a maze, and multiple paths that diverge and then re-merge later on. In fact you could say the entire game is a loop that infinitely replays itself. Of course there is an ending that makes the most sense, but every other ending has nonsensical elements. Reality is a call you put on hold as you explore the answers the game poses to you.

The path may deviate,
but the end result is the same
This representation of the concept of non-choice is delivered so well that I think it's a notable design feature. Like I said it's hard to describe without sounding like a psudo-intellectual discussing nothing of note. So I'll just say you have to experience it for yourself. The feeling that the game delivers is unsettling to a different degree than anything I've ever played before.

You'll like this game if: You want to put yourself into a maze with only one way out and don't mind forsaking the cheese for a more diabolical narrative on the focus of gaming in the modern era.

(If you had a different opinion or a new video game to suggest, leave a comment below! If you want to recieve regular updates, follow me on Twitter @SimonGolden. )

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