Davey Wreden and William Pugh have returned with Crows Crows Crows. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is a first-person walking simulator with endless twists and turns. It was quite simply aimed at surprising the player as much as possible.
You are Stanley, and you are not. You will make choices, and these choices will be taken away from you. Check out the trailer and join me below!
The very first thing that struck me, as a Nintendo Switch player, was a very particular menu option: Achievements. When I checked and saw things such as “You can’t jump” and “Speed Run”, I knew that I would be achievement hunting. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe appeared to be a short game, given an achievement demanded completion in less than 5 minutes. As I discovered though, I was both absolutely correct and entirely wrong at the same time.
The sharp-tongued narrator settled me into the experience and often reminded me of GLaDOS from the Portal series. I had to choose between blind obedience or setting out to anger this omniscient overseer. I chose defiance for my first playthrough.
Guided by the unseen narrator, much akin to Stephen Fry’s voiceover work in the LittleBigPlanet series, the player controls Stanley. Beginning in room 427 of the suspiciously empty office building, the journey ended with 1 of over 20 different scenes.
Stanley’s movement and camera controls were on the Left and Right sticks respectively, with ‘A’ used for interactions. Crouching felt natural on the Left Shoulder buttons. The Stanley Parable had a perfect control scheme, being as simple as the premise of the game itself. Without issues it got Stanley from A to B.
With 11 achievements in-game and many comical and ludicrous requirements, there were always new things to discover. I found that it was borderline impossible to grow bored while moving Stanley through his journey.
The Stanley Parable was not rendering photorealistic graphics, and shouldn’t be judged as if that were the case. The textures and environment in this HD Remix/Remaster were true to the original release, with suitable upgrades and polish. The office felt massive yet prison-like, and the development team nailed the feeling of Stanley’s isolation.
Despite being a non-violent walking experience, tensions were high at times. Red lights shining out from dark basement corners, or seemingly bottomless black pits really made an impact. Every area within The Stanley Parable had an individual feel and maintained a clear connection to those before and after it.
Audio was minimalistic, with machines and button presses giving a satisfying whir or click, but a distinct emptiness beyond. The real star of the show was Kevan Brighting, the Narrator. The dictation of my every move was well-considered, entertaining, and outright hilarious throughout. If you don’t believe me, try completing the game’s ‘Door 430’ achievement.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is the result of 3 years of development on an already exceptional indie title. The Developers added more endings, dialogue, and so much content in general that it outweighed the entire original game. This game was a true labour of love, and It showed in every corner, corridor, and threatening red light.
Replayability was summed up in the game’s first loading screen: “The end is never the end”. With over 20 endings and seemingly endless comical and sarcastic remarks from the narrator, the only true limit seemed to be my desire to explore. In a game which dared me to complete it in less than 5 minutes, I have now spent more than 4 hours with Stanley.