Why players think Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is a horror game

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The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe may be an unexpected horror hit.

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe is a very funny game, but it’s not afraid to dish out scares between laughs. The original postmodern walking simulator always had a bit of an edge to it, but Ultra Deluxe ups the ante. Everything from downer endings to mysterious messages to the engine itself is used to build tension. Here’s what makes Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe a horror game in disguise.

This guide contains major spoilers for The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe. The game is best enjoyed blind.

The Stanley Parable endings range from creepy to terrifying

Stanley Parable has never shied away from scary elements. Simply going down a set of stairs leads to a massive psychotic break that ends in Stanley’s horrible death.

Even the original “true” ending from the first game is enough to make players uncomfortable. The Narrator removes the player’s control over Stanley but quickly realizes that he is now frozen without a controller. He then starts begging and pleading for Stanley to return as the credits roll.

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But Ultra Deluxe pushes things even further. The Skip Button ending is already famous for pushing a witty game design gag as far as it can possibly go. Any glitch where the player falls into an invisble floor is played surpringly straight and often implied to end with insanity. There are also multiple endings of Stanley hurting himself just to escape from the story.

Stanley Parable tries to get in the player’s head

In addition to terrifying endings, the Stanely Parable also takes a more psychological approach to horror. The game plays with the fourth wall like very few other games can. The Narrator not only acknowledge the player directly, but can even separate them from Stanley entirely if they please.

Special endings also persist past mltiple resets, but it’s never clear exactly when these start. Even restart gets players a little bit paranoid that something has changed in the maze-like office.

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The best example of this comes from the game’s startup screen. At first, the player is asked to set the game’s clock. On the third startup, players can set a random time with the startup screen promising a gift next time. What starts off as a funny bit about game settings slowly turns into horror as the startup begins begging the player for help. This unexpected twist keeps going for longer than the player might expect.

Source engine creepiness keeps players on their toes

While Ultra Deluxe actually runs on Unity, Stanley Parable stays true to its Source engine roots in more ways than one.

Crows Crows Crows used tons of tricks to make the game still feel like Source with jagged model edges and intentionally error-filled rooms. Longtime Source fans, especially Garry’s Mod players, can tell you that environments always give off a slightly offputting atmosphere. Stanely Parable knows this very well.

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One of the scariest endings in The Stanely Parable involves descending through multiple games including Firewatch and Rocket League. It’s a funny route with gags about other popular video games, but a secret exit plops the player down in a twisted version of the office. The whole area is dark except for eery blue and green lights reflecting off computer monitors. Dimly lit hallways reek of a jumpscare, but it never comes.

Stanley Parable then caps it off by explaining that the area is too far from the Narrator for him to reset it. Stanley is, for at least this run, stuck down in a creepy office forever.

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