Much has been said about why 2013’s The Stanley Parable is so phenomenal – so much, in fact, that a segment of 2022’s The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is a literal shrine to all the praise and accolades that have rightly been heaped upon it . To go on chattering about how it cleverly messes up your own expectations of video games, or how it dissects the choices games often give us, would only highlight long-reworked points (not to mention risking my own words in the inevitable re-release of 2031 emerge). But then again, that’s exactly what I’m doing, because while these points have already been made well both above and by The Stanley Parable, they still ring as true as ever – and Ultra Deluxe’s new content proves that there’s a lot more to it say gives an order of magnitude that goes far beyond a simple remaster.
Before we get too deep a quick spoiler alert: It’s hard to talk about The Stanley Parable because so much of its charm and delight is in discovering its surprises for yourself. I’ll do my best not to ruin this experience while telling you why it’s worth having, but I’ll talk about some of the things that already made the base game stand out, as well as the overall scope and structure of Ultra Deluxe builds on that. So while I’ll avoid ruining the details of any jokes or endings, my real recommendation is that you should stop here, play it from scratch, and then come back and see how your own thoughts align with mine. But if you need something more before you make that leap, read on.
The Stanley Parable is, at its core, a surreal adventure game. You play Stanley and wander the hallways of his office while a narrator (brilliantly voiced by Kevan Brighting) gives you directions on where to go. The now thoroughly questioned gag here is of course that you don’t have to listen to him at all. The Office is a maze of paths to choose from or encounter, and each choice takes you further down the branching tree of hilarious stories and to one of its myriad endings. Each journey is filled with jokes that really got me laughing out loud (even years after I first saw them), framed in a perpetually tongue-in-cheek satire about how games are traditionally supposed to behave — be it the mundane things like ignoring the “correct”. ‘ Path or more elaborate examples like a reset, which doesn’t always reset the metaphorical sliders to zero.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe may pose as a long-awaited console port with nicely improved lighting and some new content, but that last installment is, shall we say, a gross understatement. Upon first launch, Ultra Deluxe asks if you’ve played the original before, and developer Crows Crows Crows stressed to me that it’s important to answer that question honestly. Ultra Deluxe contains the entirety of The Stanley Parable and if you not played, then it’s one of the easiest recommendations I’ll ever make – but if you to havethis re-release offers far more than a literal journey into the memory zone.
Given the many secret paths and hidden endings that The Stanley Parable contains, it’s hard to say exactly how big the new content in Ultra Deluxe really is, but I’m confident that with four to six hours of stuff to watch, it’ll do the trick at least comparable to the original. There’s essentially a whole new game to play here, and the idea of it being presented as less is probably one of its best gags. Some of Ultra Deluxe’s content takes place in brand new areas that almost feel like a direct sequel, while other additions play out as reshuffled or altered versions of Stanley’s usual paths through the office. (I don’t know for sure, but I suppose the question of whether you’ve played before will dictate how early this new content shows up, since things start off completely humble.)
The Parable of Stanley: Ultra Deluxe – 6 screenshots
While The Stanley Parable pokes fun at games as a whole, it seems only right that Ultra Deluxe shifts its focus to the concept of sequels, expansions, and DLC — as well as some purposeful self-reflection on both the original game and its broader reception. I don’t want to go into the details, but the new writing is no less clever, insightful, or funny than the old one, and the way it all fits together is quite a brilliant approach to an extremely difficult task. Designing everything in this way, as new content for an existing game and not as a standalone thing that it probably could have been had Crows Crows Crows really wanted it, allows Ultra Deluxe to make many points about the relationship between modern games and making their updates more effective, which was a real treat.
At the same time, the new stuff from Ultra Deluxe didn’t always land so well with me. It’s all extremely entertaining, but one of the downsides of fitting this pseudo-sequel within the original is the feeling that we’ve seen a lot of these magic tricks before. It’s not that they don’t hold up or aren’t still convincing, and it’s not that there aren’t many new ones that have excited me myself – but even if the well hasn’t dried up, it’s hard to shake the feeling that we’ll eventually revisit it (something Ultra Deluxe even pleasantly teases itself for). Because of this, some of the new and remixed paths initially felt like slightly more passive experiences than those of the base game – but when I think about it, I’m not sure if that’s really true, or if their impact is due to the fact that I’m better am, only slightly toned down, knew what to expect nine years later.
https://www.ign.com/articles/the-stanley-parable-ultra-deluxe-review The Parable of Stanley: Ultra Deluxe Review