Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe review: Self-reflection perfection on Switch
I’ll be completely honest, when I snagged the Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe game on the Nintendo Switch, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into. In fact, when I played it, I was sure I had played the game many times before, experiencing some very familiar endings.
And honestly, that’s what I thought it would be when I bought it. But I loved the game so it suited me. Then, after several games, a new door appeared, marked “New content”. And like my character when the door opened, I’m about to really walk in.
If you don’t want what’s behind that door spoiled, just know that I gave the game a REALLY solid review, and if you’re just curious whether or not you want to get this game, yes. Do it now.
If you don’t mind reading what’s behind the door, read on.
The first time you walk through the door, you find yourself in a simple elevator that takes you to a nearly empty room with a circle of tape on the floor labeled “Jump Circle”. While the narrator laments the amount of lackluster content offered by the “ultra deluxe” version, you can stand in the circle and jump multiple times. This is an option that the game normally lacks. Eventually, the narrator falls sick to death from the disappointment and resets.
Since the narrator mentions that you play it on the Nintendo Switch and it’s still a new area, I thought that was the meta-joke I was going to get. A reflection on deluxe versions and the disappointment of expecting more from a reissue and not actually getting it.
Then the door was back and it lets you back down.
But eventually, you’ll come across the door again, but this time with a huge neon sign pointing it out. The narrator suddenly and excitedly invites you to check it out. I could not resist. At first, it seems like things are pretty much the same…until a wall vent cover falls off and the narrator tells you to sneak out that way to see something he’s built.
Getting to the end of the vent takes you into a massive and stunningly beautiful detailed temple, the doorway of which leads you into a peaceful outdoor pasture where, as the narrator describes it, is a place where he stores all of his memories of the original launch of 2013 from the original Stanley Parable and all the good memories it had.
You pass through a magnificent dressing room filled with trophies, original promotional images, props and items from the first version of the game, and an area in which a projector displays 10/10 reviews of the original game where the narrator proudly reads. It’s very self-satisfied.
Unfortunately, after several more reviews, a bunch of boxes block your way through a door that just opened, forcing you to go through a maintenance tunnel that the narrator was unaware of. These tunnels lead you to an outdoor wasteland filled with shipping containers labeled “Pressurized Gas Reviews”. The narrator, now very nervous, explains that this is where he brushed off all comments from a “popular PC gaming service”. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is where his memory quelled 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, “unfunny” narrator dialogue, and more. Ultimately, you come across a waterside review, wishing the game had a skip button to skip the narrator’s monologues.
The narrator eventually relents and a building rises out of the water, leading you to a jump button. You test it with the narrator composing a silly monologue and hit the button to find you’ve jumped five minutes into the future. The narrator has tried to figure out what happened and tells you to wait.
After reading that people online had been waiting in this room for hours and he never came back, I pressed the button again. Now I was almost an hour in the future and the narrator said I was frozen the whole time as time progressed. The narrator tried to explain his thoughts on this and when I realized the speech was repeating itself and basically forcing me to hit the jump again. Now it was further but the door that led me to the building was gone so there I was, forced with a jump button that I didn’t want to press because, honestly, I love the narrator.
Over time, pressing the button, I saw the potted plant in the room wither and die. The clock on the wall eventually stops working and falls off the wall. The fire alarm went off to let me know the batteries were dying before they inevitably went out. And even the building itself eventually crumbled and crumbled enough that I could slip out of a hole, only to see that the world around me had shut down. My character walked through the desert for a while before, finally…everything went black.
It was a massive moment that felt like Click’s moral without the terrible storyline. A message about how we miss so much of what makes something a story as we worry more about tearing it apart at breakneck speed, unable to take a moment and simply listen to the narrative flow.
It was a self-reflection on how the game itself was a bit judgmental and liked to express itself while emphasizing how difficult sometimes it is to deal with the emotions that come with negative feedback, especially negative feedback which mainly show that the reviewer has absolutely no idea what they bought and is mostly angry that they bought something because they heard it was popular without actually researching the game …ahem.
Also, there was a “reassurance bucket” you can find and pick up, it’s a more than subtle nod to Portal’s “companion cube”, which you can carry with you through various games. This causes subtle changes to each of the original endings, including the infamous “lose your mind and die outside” ending. But I’m here for self-reflection.
Either way, Stanley Parable’s “Ultra Deluxe” without content is pretty wonderful. So much so that you almost feel like you’ve discovered a sequel rather than additional content. The storytelling is still amazing. The new endings are just as clever, challenging, and/or bizarre as ever, and just an absolute treasure to have on hand.
I’m also very happy to have it on the Switch as one of the accomplishments is not playing the game for ten years and the completist in me is very happy not to have that over my head.
Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) score – 9.5/10
If you’ve never played Stanley Parable, you’re in for a great round. Even if you’ve played it before, you’ll find a slew of new content that has crept in masterfully after several playthroughs, waiting to hit when you’ve almost fallen into your usual routine. Stanley Parable is still a masterclass in narrative storytelling and absolutely worth revisiting (or visiting for the first time).