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PAX13 – The Stanley Parable Hands-On Impression

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This is an impression piece for The Stanley Parable PAX demo. A short, 4-5 paragraph article on what exactly I played, how it  played, and perhaps by the end, after all these objective words describing what can only be called a demo of a game, I’ll figure out what it was I even played.


The Stanley Parable began as a Half-Life 2 mod that acted as a meta-narrative for video games. When given the opportunity to expand (and collapse) the game, creator Davey Wreden took it. All this I gathered from talking with the man himself. The demo I played at PAX was something a little different, but not really.

Guided through the playable demo, the playable demo was exactly what a playable demo of what The Stanley Parable would be, were it a playable demo.

Still with me?

The PAX demo is exclusive to PAX 2013 but the general public will get a version of the demo sometime in the future and I hope you all play it so that I’m not written off as a raving loon. The first-person, narrative driven adventure game reminded me a lot like Portal and for the easiest, and most objective idea of the game, you can assume the two are very similar in look and feel. Afraid that I’m going to ruin the experience if I simply detail the entire demo, I’m going to return to ambiguities and say that it’s immediately apparent that the game with its bombastic, 4th wall breaking narrator, and a primarily choice centered gameplay is something unique. What I mean is, the game is centered around the decisions you make choosing between the various options the game presents you with. But it’s nothing life threatening or even world shattering. You choose how long to wait, which door to leave through, what you’d like to feel. It’s all very meta.

But how meta can you be without being obnoxious? How meta can a game be to the point of self-defeating? I wouldn’t know because The Stanley Parable was neither of those. It was however, one of the most enjoyable experiences of PAX.

There was the illusion of something tangible near the end of the demo that was more than the clever tongue-in-cheek experience the demo showcased, but just like the end of the demo, it disappeared in a flicker. And so just as a teaser to the full game, the demo quickly hinted at greater narrative ambitions. But until the full game releases, all I played was a narrated, first-person adventure game that was pretty funny. I played a demo of what a demo for The Stanley Parable would be and that was basically it, only not really.

[The Stanley Parable won one of our Drool Awards for PAX 2013]

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