The Stanley Parable Will Mess With Your Head

The Stanley Parable Will Mess With Your Head

The former Source mod's new trailer is extremely clever in more ways than one.

Some of the more enjoyable Let's Play videos and livestreams out there come when the person playing the game doesn't really have a clue what's going on.

That's the angle developer Galactic Café has taken with its newest trailer to its upcoming remake of The Stanley Parable -- by employing the talents of Let's Player ChilledChaos, a 500,000-subscriber YouTuber who takes great pride in seeking out "strange" games and trying them for himself.

Here's the trailer. Keep watching; things get... interesting, and the trailer makes some interesting observations not only on the upcoming game itself, but on the shape of modern gaming culture and media.

For those of you who haven't come across The Stanley Parable before, the upcoming remake -- set for release this October -- is a re-imagining of a Half-Life 2 mod from 2011. To say too much about it would be to spoil a significant part of the discovery process you enjoy while playing, so for those of you who are impatient, you can download the original mod and try it for yourself here, and I recommend you do that before reading any further -- it doesn't take long.

Now we've got rid of the newbies (and those who don't care about spoilers), let's talk about the game and its impending remake.

The Stanley Parable is a very interesting narrative experiment that plays with the concept of games with an omniscient (and, it's implied, omnipotent) narrator figure, much like the one seen in Bastion. In playing the game, you have a series of choices that, each time, essentially boils down to "obey or disobey." The narrator will explain what the player character -- the eponymous Stanley -- is doing or is about to do, and the player, the one actually driving Stanley, has the option to either do as they're told, or to do something different. This begins with a choice as simple as going through the opposite door to the one the narrator said at the beginning of the game, and continues in this pattern throughout.

What's interesting about The Stanley Parable is that it caters to all the options you might think of within the limitations of the game's construction. You're not railroaded down a single narrative path, forced through a door you don't want to go through by invisible walls or magical teleporters; if you want to go off-piste, you go off-piste -- just be prepared for the fact that Galactic Café was ready for you to do that, and has branched off what initially seems like a very straightforward story into some completely unexpected directions.

The fun thing about going off-piste in The Stanley Parable is that you feel like you're actually being rebellious, when in fact all you're really doing is following an alternative narrative path. This feeling is helped along enormously by the wonderful narration from British voiceover artist Kevan Brighting, whose completely deadpan yet stern-feeling delivery makes you feel like you're being scolded by the school principal any time you do something you're not supposed to.

Galactic Café has remained relatively tight-lipped on exactly what enhancements the upcoming standalone version of Stanley's story will include, but aside from vastly improved graphics and environment design, we can doubtless expect a few hidden surprises and Easter eggs along the way, too.

You can find out more about the game -- or at least read the mildly unhinged ramblings of creator Davey Wreden -- at the official site.

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