This is the story of a man named Stanley.
— The narrator's first lines in the game.
— 8 button (demo only), 8 key on the boss's keypad upon being pushed enough times in the remake
''This game just takes away everything from you, and gives nothing back. I've never been shit on— even Call of Duty on Veteran difficulty doesn't poop on your life this hard."
Oh, dear me, what's the matter, Stanley? Is it that you have no idea where you are going or what you're supposed to be doing right now? Or did you just assume when you saw that timer that something in this room was capable of turning it off? I mean, look at you, running from button to button, screen to screen, clicking on every little thing in this room! These numbered buttons! No! These colored ones! Or maybe this big red button! Or this door! Everything! Anything! Something here will save me! Why would you think that, Stanley? That this video game can be beaten, won, solved? Do you have any idea what your purpose in this place is? Stanley, you're in for quite a disappointment. But here's a spoiler for you: that timer isn't a catalyst to keep the action moving along. It's just seconds ticking away to your death. You're only still playing instead of watching a cutscene because I want to watch you for every moment that you're powerless, to see you made humble. This is not a challenge, it's a tragedy. You wanted to control this world, that's fine. But I'm going to destroy it first, so you can't.
— The Narrator, courtesy of the Countdown Ending, summing up the game in a nutshell.
The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. You will play as Stanley, and you will not play as Stanley. You will follow a story, you will not follow a story. You will have a choice, you will have no choice. The game will end, the game will never end.