Critical Play: Walking Simulator

Walking is a key mechanic in The Stanley Parable, as it is the main source of player agency. In addition to walking, boundaries play a significant role in shaping the gameplay experience and exploring the game’s themes of freedom, choice, and narrative constraints. As with many walking sims, this game’s main aesthetic is exploration. Walking becomes a means of interacting with the narrator by complying with or ignoring their instructions, shaping the story in unique ways. The story is defined by where the player chooses to walk, and players can explore more of the story by walking along different paths than they walked before. The game targets players who are open to a unique, thought-provoking experience, since it subverts many expectations for the way a game should be played or designed by having walking as the main driving force for the game. Walking along different paths and breaking narrative boundaries becomes a way for players to question and explore the nature of storytelling. The game also becomes extremely meta when the narrator addresses the player directly, talking about the game design elements and directly addressing when a player leaves the intended area of the map. This gets the player thinking about how games are designed and how players interact with games, and all of this was created through the simple mechanic of walking.

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