Hangin’ out with Esther and Stanley

So I recently played The Stanley Parable and finished Dear Esther (hardly an accomplishment) and came to the following conclusions.

Dear Esther was cool. I appreciated the immersion, the atmosphere and the experience. The graphics were great, the pacing and story-telling were nothing short of perfect. However what bugs me, is that I spent $10 for an hour of this.

Simple math and the average price for a game nowadays gives me a bad feeling. I paid $110 for Assassins Creed III (the super cool figurine edition) which provided about 25 hours of gameplay. This works out at about $4.40 per hour in the main story, in a game which while many may not have enjoyed, cost many millions to produce, took two and a half years to make, and took an entire team to develop. I understand that the indie community isn’t made of money, and I appreciate a great experience but at $10 this is not a game but a short film where I hold the ‘w’ key for most of it. I wonder if there should be some sort of standard for prices on Steam – opinions below!

The Stanley Parable however, $11.99 aside, was boring. Plain ol’ boring. This game was explained to me as the type which subverts modern standards, makes you think etc. etc. That was what I expected, I expected choice and exploration in a world where the narrator guides your every move across a ‘cartoonish’ office space world. What I was left with was a game which still had me make no more than two decisions at a time (see my previous post on Dichotomy) and I felt like it funneled me through the corridors while a narrator, whose voice was fairly cool – a dry British wit, rambled on in the background.

The whole thing stank of cheapness, not in the level design, or art assets, or gameplay, but in the presentation as a whole. Here is the potential for a unique experience where the player can dick around or explore heaps of rooms while the narrator recites your every move in a bored tone, almost egging the player on to continue. Instead you are left at times listening to the narration while staring at a dead version of the player (spoiler alert – this is only one possible ending), and forced to run between rooms while the narrator just blabs incessantly about philosophy. I was disappointed to say the least.

I go off the reviews on Steam when I purchase these games or at least try the demos, and it seems like the reviewers only play 3 minutes of the game before deciding what to write. Anyway,