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Device 6/The Stanley Parable | reviews, news & interviews

Device 6/The Stanley Parable

Device 6/The Stanley Parable

Do videogames really let you choose your narrative? These two games ask the question with style

'The Stanley Parable': Choice and the illusion of choice in videogame narratives

Games provide the illusion of choice, they pretend you interact with them. Really, most videogames simply wait for you to press the right button before advancing one step to the next point where you have to press the next right button. Both The Stanley Parable and Device 6 explore the idea of choice brilliantly.

The Stanley Parable was released as a "mod" for Half-Life in 2011 but now gets a full and redesigned release in its own right. This truly bizarre game sees you guiding Stanley, an office drone who one day discovers his fellow workers have simply disappeared, through a maze of choice.

Device 6 / The Stanley Parable - narrative choice or the lack of it in videogamesWill you choose to look for your colleagues in the conference room as the narrator suggests you will do, or just wander off? Will you choose whether to use the narrator's revelation of the secret keycode your boss has to unlock the horrific truth behind your office, or ignore the voice? Each choice has different consequences and leads towards different endings – the "game" is short, but the fun is in experimenting trying to break the narrative to find the multitude of different endings, pushing against the boundaries of choice as you do so.

Exploring similar themes, but via entirely different methods, is the mobile game Device 6. From Simogo, creators of one of this year's other standout iPhone/iPad games, Year Walk (an adventure based around Swedish mythology), this is half puzzle-based adventure game, half interactive novel, with both combining seamlessly into a beautifully atmospheric experience.

Device 6 / The Stanley Parable - narrative choice or the lack of it in videogamesAnna wakes in a mysterious tower with little in the way of memories. How did she get there? How can she escape? Who are the mysterious Hat organisation that seem to be watching her every move? Navigate the multi-directional text, solve the puzzles and find out what is going on in a spy story clearly inspired by the mind and identity games of The Prisoner.

Again, at its heart, Device 6 explores ideas around control and choice – how much are you guided by videogames, by the handheld devices that now dominate our lives, and how much do you guide them? There are no clear answers here, but at least both Device 6 and The Stanley Parable are videogames that ask you interesting questions...

  • Device 6 is out now. Developed and published by Simogo. Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Simon Munk on twitter

A spy story clearly inspired by the mind and identity games of 'The Prisoner'


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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