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Saturday, May 28, 2022

For PS5 and Xbox Achievement Hunters, This Game Is Torture

The Stanley Parable's opening moment, as Stanley sits at his PC, awaiting instructions.

Screenshot: Crows Crows Crows / Kotaku

2013 PC indie darling The Stanley Parable released its revised, multiplatform, expanded Ultra Deluxe update yesterday, which in itself is a remarkably strange act. This version of the game, which may as well be considered a sequel given how much is new, is a Möbius strip of meta within meta, that delights in trolling its player as much as anything else. And this time, that extends to its achievements. One of which requires that a person not play The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe for a decade. We spoke to one of the game’s developers to get answers.

The Stanley Parable was, and once again is, a game built from the ground up around the concept of bemusing its player. Always a few steps ahead of you, no matter how you try to outwit it, developers William Pugh and Davey Wreden play with you like malevolent scientists teasing rats in a maze. So it’s only fitting that in this decade-later re-imagined version, there are achievements that are pissing off its new audience on consoles.

The game has the same 11 achievements across all platforms, whether PC, Xbox or PlayStation, and some of them are fairly simple. There’s one for starting the game! Another for quitting out and playing a second time. And one for, um, setting all the sliders in the Settings screen to every available number.

Then things start getting a little more weird. Players are rewarded for clicking on door 430 a total of five times, as well as another for not jumping. Well, trying and failing to jump, since they removed jumping from the game as a possibility. There’s a speedrun achievement in there too, for finishing the game in under four minutes and 22 seconds. Something 4.1 percent of Steam players have apparently managed already.

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe's Steam Achievements

Screenshot: Valve / Kotaku

Up another level of oddness is the achievement named “8888888888888888,” with the description, “888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888.” Thanks William and Davey, thanks. Add to that, “Test achievement please ignore,” described as, “Test achievement description! Replace this!” and my personal favorite, “Commitment” which requires players to, “Play The Stanley Parable for the entire duration of a Tuesday.”

Then last, and definitely least, is “Super Go Outside.” This is where there’s the most contention, an achievement that requires players to not play The Stanley Parable for ten years.

What a fantastic troll of achievement hunters, you lovely but odd people who attach more significance to getting a jpeg to pop up in the corner of the screen than to enjoying the game you’re playing. And console players are getting even more narked about this, because somehow some people have already ticked off the trophy. 1.5% of a very sizeable audience on Steam have this in their collection, compared to 0.1% of even more industrious players who have mysteriously already played it for an entire Tuesday. (It was released on Thursday.) Oh, and then on top of that there’s the achievement for getting all the other achievements.

We found co-developer William Pugh, pinned him to a wall, and demanded answers. Why would he do this to people?

“Patience is a skill that must be learned and honed like anything else required to ‘achieve’ something,” Pugh told Kotaku, between breaths. So we asked what he hoped they would learn through this process?

“How to wait, and to be comfortable waiting. How to live with everything not being exactly how you want it straight away, right now. How to bare discomfort and to know that simply by waiting, they will eventually have what they want. As the age old saying goes ‘good things come to those who either wait or change the system time’.”

But what if someone dies during that decade wait? Is that really fair? “When we die we’re all going to miss out on a lot of cool stuff,” replies Pugh. “You could say the same thing about the Ice & Fire books, or Better Call Saul, or some other cooler piece of media that only teenagers know about.”

When pressed, Pugh suggested “They could put in their will, ‘Please open TSPUD after this date to get my achievement’.” He pauses, then adds, “But that’s a kind of hacky workaround.”

PS. That click door 430 five times achievement? Definitely try it. Trust me.

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