Have you heard of The Stanley Parable? It started as a mod on the Source Engine for Half Life 2. It became a niche success and one of the many underground games that helped carve out its own little bit of success up and away from the mainstream structures of interactive entertainment. But what happens when the mod turns into a real game and gets bigger, bolder and brasher?
There's no way to properly describe the trailer for The Stanley Parable and have it make any kind of sense whatsoever. It reminds me a lot of the movie Metropia meets The Twilight Zone, meets a bit of Christopher Nolan's Inception. Beyond that, the trailer itself takes players on a very wild ride that completely changes directions half way through.
Originally, the teaser starts like a typical play through. The slow burn towards something more sinister and something more profound eventually begins to reveal itself. The mock on the Let's Play paradigm becomes apparent, but then it also hinges on a self-awareness that players are supposed to employ that makes the game seem so much more than what the trailer originally depicts. So what is it?
The general consensus is that this is a game that players will need to play for themselves. This teaser was an introduction to the basic premise of a lab rat experiment extrapolated through the motif of a daily office worker routine, which is then extrapolated to the idea that players need to be aware that what they do in the game is part of something larger still – as if there's a social commentary to be made on the Let's Play culture of gaming.
It's like a meta-dualistic magnifying glass that just keeps pulling out and away from what you think you know and what you think is there. That's some trippy stuff.
Anyway, the trailer really stands out for starting one way and eventually becoming something else. In regards to the whole abandoned office theme of the game, it makes it difficult to tell if there's a more sinister monster lurking about or some other controlled experiment taking place. This was, unfortunately, one of the mods I did not play through when it originally released, so I'm definitely a bit in the dark as far as the extent of the content goes in this new version.
However, if they can churn out a full game experience from a procedurally distinct and ever-changing office environment, this could easily prove to be one of those games that garners a nice following, similar to other games like Slender: The Arrival or Where Am I?, where the thrill of the unknown keeps players playing. In a way, this also reminds me of the sub-gamemode in Garry's Mode based on the movie The Cube, where multiple players start inside the cube and must work their way to the outside while avoiding the traps.
If The Stanley Parable seems like the kind of game that fits into your thriller-mystery needs, you can look to grab the game from digital distributors this October. For more information feel free to visit the official website.