Review – The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
I tend to prefer action games over so-called walking simulators, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the latter when a developer comes up with a really innovative idea to take advantage of its narrative-driven structure. Case and point, The Stanley Parable. I’m not going to beat around the bush: I legit feel that The Stanley Parable is not only the best walking sim ever made, but one of the best games of all time, period. It’s the one game in the genre that I can think of that took advantage of its simple structure in order to focus on interactivity, player choice, decision-making, replayability, and most importantly, fun. What was once touted to be borderline perfect is now even closer to reaching that goal, all thanks to the release of the long-awaited The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe.
Before I talk about Ultra Deluxe, I feel like I should talk about The Stanley Parable, although I will try to limit myself when it comes to its plot and twists, as this is the kind of game that’s best enjoyed by knowing as little as possible about it. In it, you play as an office worker named Stanley. Stanley is a normal guy, who just wants to find out why none of his coworkers are inside the office at a particular moment.
He is guided by a narrator, who not only talks about the actions Stanley (aka, the player) takes, but also decides which path you should take in order to properly proceed with the story. Here’s the thing, you don’t need to follow what he says. Moreover, the game doesn’t want you to. Your disregard for the game’s set path, as well as the overall concept of the player dictating his own role inside the game, is what makes The Stanley Parable so appealing.
Bear in mind, this is a very broad generalization of what The Stanley Parable is all about. In terms of gameplay, it is all about walking and dictating your own path, finding out new endings and plot twists to what could technically be a mere five minute long walking simulator experience. Narratively, it is one of the most hilarious games of all game, standing next to titles like Saints Row IV, Monkey Island, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Deadpool, albeit in a much smarter (and snarkier) way. The entirety of the humor stems from the narrator, voiced by the phenomenal Kevan Brighting, who delivers lines in the most deliciously sarcastic (and British) of manners. Listening to the man slowly losing his patience with you not paying attention to his inputs is worth the admission ticket alone.
Now that you’re acquainted (or re-acquainted) with The Stanley Parable, let’s talk about the star of the show. Let’s talk about The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. Hell, if talking about the original game without spoiling anything was already a herculean effort, talking about Ultra Deluxe, and what new elements it brings to the table, is borderline impossible. Technically-speaking, this is the Persona 5 Royal of The Stanley Parable. It features technical improvements (better visuals, better performance, console ports) and new content. A lot of new content. A whole crap ton of phenomenal new content.
I have to commend the developers for porting The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe in such a great state on the Switch. I’m not gonna lie, I was worried it would suffer from terrible framerates like pretty much any other walking simulator on the system. It seems like, with the exception of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, performance isn’t a priority when porting narrative-based adventure games on the system. That isn’t the case. Not only does the Switch version of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe look substantially better than the original game, coded in Source back in 2013, but it actually manages to reach 60fps throughout most of the time. It does dip every now and then, but it’s never something egregious.
The star of the show is the aptly named “New Content”. Don’t worry if you haven’t played The Stanley Parable before, of if you’ve played it so long ago to the point of not remembering properly what’s new or what’s not. You will figure out when it shows up. And boy oh boy, when it does, it’s magical.
Talking about the so-called “New Content” (as well as an extra series of scenes called “New New Content”) in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is a nightmare for a reviewer who’s trying his best not to spoil newcomers with what the game is all about it. All I can say is that this is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen in a video game. It made me laugh incredibly hard, all thanks to some snarky, clever, but accessible sense of humor. It’s so meta that Mark Zuckerberg would feel intimidated by it. As Deadpool once said, “a fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like…sixteen walls!”
The sheer amount of new content in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe basically doubles its length, which is brilliant. Unlike other walking simulators, this is a game meant to be replayed over and over again, almost like an old-school arcade title. In no moment have I felt bored while exploring Stanley’s office. This is a great testament to perfect level design, narrative, and most importantly, pacing. The additional lines of dialogue recorded by Kevan Brighting are nothing short of brilliant. In fact, there’s very little to complain about this brand new version of The Stanley Parable as a whole. It’s just that good.
The Stanley Parable has been considered the best walking simulator ever made since 2013. The only way it could ever be surpassed would be by its creators to come up with an improved version of said masterpiece. That is exactly what The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. It made what was borderline perfect even better. Sure, it might have a few technical issues here and there, but they are minute when you assess everything this hilarious and thought-provoking walking simulator has to offer. Not to mention the fact it runs superbly well on the Switch. In short, buy The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. It’s brilliant. It’s a testament to game design. It was oh so worth the wait.
Looks slightly sharper than the original game, which was coded in Source in 2013. It runs at 60fps, with dips, even in portable mode, which is a plus.
The perfect case of a walking simulator focused on interactivity and player choice. Yes, all you do is walk and press buttons, but it’s all that’s needed, given the context of the gameplay and story.
Kevan Brighting’s voicework remains some of the best in the history of gaming. Plus now we have even more perfectly delivered lines from him. Hooray!
Fun Factor: 10
The Stanley Parable has been considered the best walking simulator ever made since 2013. Step aside, old man; The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe now claims the throne due to its portability and tons of new (and freaking phenomenal) content. I’d give it an 11 out of 10 for Fun Factor if I could.
Final Verdict: 9.5
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.