The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe: Game Review

This place should have been the usual story about how significant The Stanley Parable, released back in 2013, how it broke the “fourth wall” and explored the nature of choice in games. But I want to start with a much more relevant topic and talk about buckets. “A bucket”… how much there is in this sound… Have you ever thought about the fact that a bucket is not just a useful thing in the household, that it can have its own thoughts, desires (for example, learn to roller skate)?

But thanks to The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, I got to thinking – and now I just can’t look at my bucket, where I have so unceremoniously shoved a dirty rag all these years, just like a household tool. No, now it is standing next to me on a chair, and I really hope that the warmth and guiding light of the bucket will pierce the veil of confusion and chaos in my life …

A joke repeated twice?

Of course, it may seem surprising that an absolutely irrational meme with a bucket, which has nothing to do with thoughts about the fate of the industry, has become almost the main joke in the game, which is actually about postmodernism, the breaking of the “fourth wall”, an ironic look from the inside on video game development, statistical analysis, interaction with the community, and so on.

And I, to confess, while playing The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, in the first 20 minutes, I was also rather skeptical. It is difficult to enter the same river twice. And what looked bold, relevant and breakthrough nine years ago, now doesn’t seem so anymore – over the years, many have broken the “fourth wall”, and they have done it very talentedly, like, for example, my beloved Daniel Mullins, author Inscryption.

The graphics in the new game seem to be prettier.

Of course, there is a unique storyteller in The Stanley Parable, which, it turns out (and this has only now become clear), I have missed in these nine years. And the “fourth wall” breaks down here for a reason, but so that the developers in an ironic manner talk to us on topics relevant to the industry, speculate about the nature of choice in games. And they didn’t just speculate, but they did it brilliantly, allowing us, in the form of a simple office worker Stanley, to go against the narrator, make decisions different from the planned ones, be planted by the way the narrator is furious (although in some places I even feel sorry for him), and discover more and more new endings.

We are asked to go straight, but what happens if we turn left and try to escape? It’s impossible to hold on.

But, I repeat, that was nine years ago. And what do we initially see in this seemingly expanded edition? Yes, we can find a separate trophy museum where all the awards the game has won are on display, and some laudatory reviews are placed under glass in a frame. There are also exhibition halls with additional materials, which show sketches of some locations, including Stanley’s room, talk about the development progress, how the authors found the designer, and so on. Interesting, informative, funny, but nothing more.

Plus, the authors quite predictably sneer about the “new materials” in such reissues, and the materials turned out to be comically few.

And again brilliant!

However, when, it would seem, you are finally convinced that The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is sometimes funny, but generally labored walking in a circle and that the joke repeated twice is no longer so funny, the developers turn everything over with a couple of light movements upside down.

The style here is awful – in a good way, of course.

Taking off from the negative reviews on Steam, they’re thinking about adding everything players ask for, and introducing a great cutscene with a button that allows you to skip dialogue. This scene is so strong that now I probably won’t be able, as before, to simply skip the lines – I will instinctively be afraid of how this might end.

And then the narrator shows ideas for a sequel, including, for example, a device for issuing free achievements, collectible figurines for collecting which we get nothing, a button that says the real name of the player, and much more. And, of course, the notorious soothing bucket, which beckons and begs you to take it, because immediately you will be enveloped by a wave of warmth and comfort.

As a result, the game turns from an extended edition into almost a full-fledged sequel. And if you run not The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, but The Stanley Parable 2, the game will change – the balloons decorating the office, the soothing bucket, new locations, new endings and even new characters…

Which logo do you like best?

And the enthusiastic horror from realizing how deep the game is again, from the fact that you simply don’t know what other surprises and endings the authors have prepared for the next passage … And at the same time, behind the irony, there are quite deep, interesting, and most importantly, relevant game development process and interacting with their community.


All this does not mean that The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is self-sufficient. No, it’s better to go through the original first, and then launch the sequel to understand how much deeper and more interesting the game has become. The authors have once again proved that they are geniuses – and I simply have nothing more to add. I’d rather just take a soothing bucket in my hands – I want, you know, warmth and comfort in the midst of the chaos of life.

Pros: plot; humor; irony; new brilliant ideas and additional materials; current reflections on the development and perception of games; great voice acting.

Cons: none.