Title: Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
Developer: Crows Crows Crows
Publisher: Crows Crows Crows
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release Date: April 27, 2022
I’m going to be completely honest, when I snagged the Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe game on the Nintendo Switch I figured I knew exactly what I was getting into. In fact, when I played it, I was positive I had already played through the game several times, experiencing some very familiar endings.
And honestly, that’s what I figured it would be when I bought it. But I loved the game so I was fine with it. Then, after several playthroughs, a new door appeared that was marked “New Content”. And like my character when the door showed up, I’m about to really get into it.
If you don’t want what’s behind that door spoiled, just know I gave the game a REALLY solid review, and if you’re just curious about whether or not to get this game, yes. Do it now.
If you don’t mind reading about what’s behind the door, however, read on.
The first time you go in the door you end up on a simple elevator ride which takes you to a mostly empty room with a circle of tape on the floor labeled the “Jump Circle”. As the narrator laments the lackluster amount of content the “ultra deluxe” version offers, you can stand in the circle and jump a few times. It’s an option the game famously lacks normally. Eventually, the narrator gets sick to death of the disappointment and resets.
As the narrator mentions you playing it on the Nintendo Switch and it is still a new area, I figured this was the meta-joke I was going to get. A reflection on deluxe versions and the disappointment over expecting more from a rerelease and not really getting it.
Then, the door was back and it lets you down again.
But eventually, you will encounter the door again, only this time with a massive neon sign pointing it out. The narrator suddenly and enthusiastically urges you to check it out. I couldn’t resist. At first, it seems like things are fairly the same… until a wall vent cover falls off and the narrator tells you to sneak that way to see something he built.
Getting to the end of the vent takes you to a massive and surprisingly beautiful detailed temple, whose door leads you into a peaceful outdoor pasture where, as the narrator describes, is a place where he stores all his memories of the original 2013 launch of the original Stanley Parable and all the great memories he had.
You go through a gorgeous lodge filled with trophies, original promotional images, props, and items from the first build of the game, and an area in which a projector displays 10/10 reviews of the original game where the narrator reads along proudly. It’s very self-congratulatory.
Unfortunately, after several other reviews, a pile of boxes blocks your way through a door that just opened, forcing you to go through a maintenance tunnel the narrator was not aware existed. These tunnels lead you to an outdoor wasteland filled with shipping containers labeled “Pressurized Gas Reviews”. The narrator, now very nervous, explains this is where he pushed down all the comments from a “popular PC game service”. If you haven’t gotten it yet, this is where his memory repressed the negative Steam reviews the game received.
You wander through a hellish landscape in which negative Steam reviews plaster the landscape focusing on the lack of gameplay, the “unfunny” dialogue of the narrator, and more. Ultimately, you come across a review at the edge of the water, wishing the game had a skip button to get past the narrator’s monologues.
The narrator finally caves and a building rises out of the water, leading you to a skip button. You test it with the narrator making up a silly monologue and you pressing the button only to find that you skipped five minutes into the future. The narrator tried to figure out what happened and tells you to wait.
After reading that people online had waited hours in this room and he never does come back, I pressed the button again. Now I was almost an hour into the future and the narrator said that I stood there frozen the whole time while time progressed. The narrator tried explaining his thoughts on the matter and when I realized the speech was repeating and essentially forcing me to hit the skip again. Now it was farther but the door that had led me to the building had disappeared so I was in there, forced with a skip button I didn’t want to hit because, honestly, I love the narrator.
Over time, having to hit the button I watched the potted plant in the room wilt and die. The clock on the wall eventually stop running and fall from the wall. The fire alarm go off to let me know the batteries were dying before it inevitably died out. And even the building itself finally collapsed and broke down enough where I could escape out of a hole, only to see the world around me had died out. My character walked through the desert for a while before, eventually…it all went black.
It was a massive moment that felt like the moral of Click without the terrible script. A message about how we miss so much about what makes something a story when we worry more about tearing through it at breakneck speed, unable to take a moment and just listen to the narrative flow.
It was self-reflection on how the game itself was a bit preachy and loved to go off about itself and at the same time put a heavy focus on how difficult it is sometimes to handle the emotions that come with negative comments, especially negative comments that mostly showcase that the reviewer has absolutely no idea what they purchased and are mostly just mad that they purchased something because they heard it was popular without actually researching the game…ahem.
Also, there was a “Reassurance Bucket” that you can find and pick up, that’s a more than subtle nod to Portal’s “Companion Cube,” which you can bring with you through various playthroughs. It causes subtle changes to every one of the original endings including the infamous “lose your mind and die outside” ending. But I’m here for the self-reflection.
Anyways, Stanley Parable’s “Ultra Deluxe” no content is pretty wonderful. So much so that it almost feels like you’ve discovered a sequel as opposed to additional content. The narration is still incredible. The new endings are just as clever, thought-provoking and/or bizarre as always, and is just an absolute treasure to have around.
I’m also very happy to have it on the Switch because one of the achievements is to not play the game for ten years and the completist in me is very happy I don’t need to have that hovering over my head.
Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) Score – 9.5/10
If you have never played Stanley Parable, you’re in for an excellent ride. Even if you have played it previously, you’re going to find a wealth of new content that has masterfully snuck itself in after several playthroughs, waiting to strike when you’ve all but fallen into your regular routine. Stanley Parable is still a masterclass in narrative storytelling and is absolutely worth revisiting (or visiting for the first time).