Strange Free Games: The Stanley Parable

Last time, I introduced a game that provided an innovative narrative by allowing you to freely decide which way the story should go. Here’s a game that does just the opposite: The Stanley Parable tells you what you should do, then sees if you’ll comply or not.

The Stanley Parable is a Half Life 2 mod, which means it requires the Source engine pre-installed. For Windows, downloading Steam and the free game, Team Fortress 2 will take care of it. Unfortunately for the Mac, both Steam and a copy of Half Life 2 (or any of its episodes) are required.

Instructions for installation are in the download’s zip file, as README.txt.

The Stanley Parable is best played without any previous knowledge, but I’ll reveal the introduction anyways. As the title implies, you play as Stanley, an employee whose job involves reading what’s on the screen, and pushing the respective buttons. One day, Stanley stops receiving any commands from the said screen. Confused, he ventures out of his office, to see what’s going on.

Funny and scary at the same time, The Stanley Parable is a satire that criticizes the linear story structure of many games. Clearly inspired by Bioshock, the game’s multiple endings all makes fun of the role Stanley — and by extension, you — take in the story. Without spoiling much further, the narrator (Kevan Brighting) is as sexy as he is dangerous.

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