the stanley parable
The Stanley Parable is another artsy first-person game that doesn’t play anything like an FPS and instead focuses on telling a story in an interesting way. Unlike most of those games, it’s funny as hell and plays very well in small doses, so if you’re looking for a game that feels “smart” but not “heavy,” this is the one.
 
You are Stanley, and this is your story: you are in your office, and nobody is around, and then you try to figure out why. The story is narrated by a disembodied British voice who has ideas for what you should do that may or may not align with yours. Hilarity ensues. The core gameplay does not include combat or puzzles; you are simply exploring a space, both in the sense of a spatial location and of a possibility space.
 
There are maybe a couple of hours of gameplay in the Stanley Parable, none of it filler. The humor is absurd, dark, and very “meta”. If you have ever complained about game narratives being “on rails” and not offering choice, or used the term “ludo-narrative dissonance” in casual conversation, this game will give you a lot to talk about around the water cooler.

 

game: the stanley parable

developer: galactic cafe

publisher: galactic cafe

release date: october 17, 2013

other games like it: gone home (from the fullbright company), portal (from valve)

author: samwise