The Stanley Parable Demo is a stand alone first person experience that feels like a prequel to the action game. In this “demo,” you’ll walk around and experience what goes into making a demo as you’re guided by the game’s narrator. You’ll never actually find the demo that you’re playing. There’s a lot of “fourth walling.” Are you playing a demo? Is your character trying to find a demo? Is the narrator speaking to you the character or you the player?
After hearing people say the demo was better, I had to give it a try. The Stanley Parable has been up for game of the year awards, which is always shocking considering its big budget competition. Its also been known for its humor, choice and narrator. While I honestly can’t call the full Stanley Parable a true game of the year candidate, it certainly stands out from a crowd of not only games, but other first person experiences.
The story of the demo is that you’re trying to find the demo, so you take a tour of the game developers to see their process. Along the way, you’ll revisit several of the same locations as you’re lead in a loop about three times by the guiding voice. Each loop through will offer something new to distract yourself with, each involving a button press. Then the demo ends with a series of flashbacks and random places that all lead up to the start of the Stanley Parable itself.
The demo really excels at art design and voice acting. The voice actor is top notch, especially for a demo so basic, he adds a lot of credibility to making a believable product. As for the look of the game, its beautiful and smooth. There’s an eclectic array of rooms, both mundane and others artistic. Some are wooden and others are modern if not warehouses and garages. Part of of me thinks its a well thought out map design, while part of me thinks its just a bunch of random rooms glued together by doors.
There are big white rooms with black text. Signs and arrows that guide your way. Waiting rooms with quite a variety of furniture. You’ll even find a big wall of televisions that help the narrator elaborate on things. Its a nice display. When the demo starts going off the rails with its sanity, one of the rooms becomes notably glitched. Buttons hovering in the air, red boxes that you can’t walk through. Its all part of the illusion that breaks the fourth wall and lets you know that you’re in a video game.
At no point will you encounter another character, or yourself in a mirror. Its just well done architecture and lighting. With such great artistic variety and lighting, some might call it a tech demo for the game engine if it didn’t have such a great narrator and presence to it.
People say this is a comedy demo, and there is definitely a humorous slant to the demo, but I didn’t really laugh out loud so much as I let the game lead me around for fifteen minutes. At one brief point, the demo lets you onto a floor that lets you explore just a bit around a building. You’ll visit a room with a walk through wall. Another room that explores feelings and emotions. One room even has a button that gives you vague compliments. You can bypass everything by walking through the exit, and inevitably, that’s what you’ll have to do.
It plays easy enough, just walk around. There is no jump, but there is a crouch, which seems useless. The only interactivity you’ll have is picking up a mug to throw it in a garbage can. You’ll also be allowed to push several different buttons… when they work. That’s part of the joke, not all of the buttons in this experience work. More specifically the one that asks if you’d like to buy the game. Neither button works.
However, several other buttons work, such as the button 8, that when you push it, a bunch of 8s appear on five walls. There’s another series of dozens of buttons that when you’ve pushed one, it informs you what 94% of the people that have pushed that button are.
I played through the demo twice to see what other choices I could have made differently, but there was no impact. You only have the illusion of choice. There are a few things here and there that can lead you to think that the narrator is paying attention to your actions, but 94% of the time, the narrator sticks to a strict script. I’ll do things that completely contradict what the narrator is saying. He doesn’t care. Its just like other games and when the Stanley Parable itself is about the narrator molding his narrations to your actions, it felt like there should have been more details.
There’s not that much to say about the experience that wouldn’t spoil it. In the end, it didn’t make me want to play the Stanley Parable over again. You know its a demo and its not the real game, so how do you know what the real game is like? By the end of the demo, you will get a grasp of how quirky the Stanley Parable is, complete with the narrator’s baffling befuddlement.
With everything said, this is a super easy experience with no chance of failure. That alone will let people enjoy it. If you’re looking for a game, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a unique, quirky experience that is well done, look no further than the Stanley Parable Demo. This experience certainly breaks the mold from other experiences out there. I’d honestly rather play this than one of the dozens of first person scary experiences.