Ultra Deluxe – Wayland Student Press

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

“The Stanley Parable” is one of my favorite video games because of the way it subverts expectations. When the game’s long-awaited expansion “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” was released on April 27, it lived up to my hopes created by the original game by further challenging my expectations.

For those who are not too familiar with the original game, the principle of the video game is quite simple: what if you disobeyed the wishes of the developers? In most AAA or major games, you have no choice in the plot of the video game. Instead, the plot presented is a simple path to victory. However, in “The Stanley Parable”, the player, who acts as an employee of a large company named Stanley with the assigned number “427” and whose co-workers have all disappeared, is given a choice between listening to The Narrator to find out what happened to his co-workers and ends up “winning” the game, or forging their own path to explore an exciting office park and discover new surprises while hearing the narrator chastise you for disobeying them, in a way that may seem confusing at first. Although the plot of the game is very superficial, it still plays into the parody vision of the game of great modern story-based games.

The game developers deliberately concealed the premise of the game from the public from the announcement of the game until the day of its release, as the aim of the game is to amaze the player. Plus, if the developers wanted to keep an element of surprise, then a lot of the classic sequel ideas wouldn’t work. If the developers were to add predictable elements such as more endings, opening doors, change the original plot, or play with the graphics, the unsettling surprise aspect would disappear, taking away the fun. The game’s author, Davey Wreden, who rose to fame with both the original “The Stanley Parable” and the metafiction “The Beginners Guide,” continued his streak of ingenious creativity in designing the sequel.

“The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” expands on the original in ways only Wreden could have imagined. Stanley’s desktop is identical to the original 2013 version, except for a few very small changes that only superfans have recognized. Then, after going through a door labeled “NEW CONTENT”, which appears after a few plays, the ability to jump is announced as the new feature added to “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” by “Gravity Falls” creator Alex Hirsch , then sends you back to the office building. Then the game’s trademark narrator (played by arguably the best voice actor in all of video games, Kevan Brighting) has some kind of meltdown. He explains how modern game developers have abandoned the art of making a good sequel and announces that he is taking on the challenge of making a good sequel by fixing the problems found by negative user reviews. Incomplete features such as a non-working achievement generator and a button showing your name, which is also incomplete and only says “Jim”, are displayed in a showroom. The showroom also includes a nondescript QR code that leads to a 10-minute video that pokes fun at sequels in classic Wreden style. This easter egg is one of my favorite parts of the game. The narrator then comes to the conclusion that the game better throw away the mostly incomplete content it boasted of in the original game, and on the next reboot, the game is filled with new actions, choices and unique jokes.

The new content feels a bit freer and is more joke-laden than the original content at first glance. For the best experience, “The Stanley Parable” is a game meant to be played without prior knowledge of the comic aspects, as the unsettling randomness of the game is what makes it fun at first. Once the player has gone through enough playthroughs to unlock the new Reimagining endings, they know the sassy side of the Narrator. Additionally, even if the player has played the game multiple times by this point, the transitions between the original content and the sequel’s new content can still be entertainingly jarring. For example, The Narrator transitions between telling Stanley he’s dealing with harsh hallucinations and getting them to decide between what’s a bucket or not, in a way that only Stanley’s Parable would feature.

Speaking of buckets, probably the most random change showcased in the Exhibit Hall is the addition of an optional bucket, which The Narrator says has comforting powers despite its out-of-place location in a game where you walk around. in an office park. Each original ending was recreated with a new twist on the regular version if the player removes it from a pedestal before the first decision is presented to the player. While some of the changes are very noticeable, some of them are finer details that many don’t notice. The game is very detail-oriented, relying on the player to find a small change or wait a long time for the narrator to crack a joke. The bucket is a proponent of this, and it’s pretty unnoticeable for those who don’t want to wait, but if you do, there is indeed a reward of discovering something new.

However, the game overhaul is not just limited to new content. The game has been ported to the Unity game engine for a more modern toolset and better performance. Although in my experience, the game had many moments that resulted in performance well below optimum. However, despite the engine change, the game somehow manages to retain the same look and feel. Even the Narrator’s voice still has the same flaws, despite the game being mostly redone from scratch. These subtle coherences show a wonderful display of technical art in the game.

The expansion also includes a soundtrack that matches the game in a parody way, poking fun at some of the endings, especially the epilogue. The soundtrack isn’t worth listening to on its own, but it’s still very enjoyable when mixed into the game. Especially when the game’s art director is acting as the voice for an ending song that wasn’t supposed to be originally in the game.

The biggest downside to the game, in my opinion at least, is the price. For the duration of the game, I’m not sure $25 is worth it for non-super fans of the previous version. I still think it’s worth it for those who care about the show, as well as those who don’t know anything about Stanley. In my opinion, even with the temporary 33% discount, which lasted two weeks from the release of the title, the game could have remained in DLC (downloadable content) for at most four new hours of content. The lack of new material is likely the reason it is marketed as “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” and not “The Stanley Parable 2”. However, selling a completely redone game as an expansion pack is not possible due to the amount of manpower required to create the game. Crows Crows Crows is an independent studio selling a story-based game with little room for in-game purchases, leaving money earning at the initial cost. If you’re willing to pay the price Crows Crows Crows wants to sell “The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe” for, you can have fun, but some may not find the value proposition reasonable.

Overall, in my opinion, the game deserves a nine out of 10. “The Stanley Parable” and its modern expansion really can’t be compared to anything since there’s nothing else in its category of games, with its unique blend of interactive storytelling and humor. Words can’t really do the format justice. To understand the value of the game, you have to play it and find the little quirks that Davey Wreden is famous for.