- Written by Evan Tumbas
- Published: 22 January 2014
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PS Vita
Release date: November 11th, 2013 (PS3/PS Vita), December 13th, 2013 (PC)
Stick It To The Man! is wonderfully grotesque, with a queer irreverence and kooky aesthetic that were an unexpected delight.
From out of nowhere, Stick it to the Man! struck a chord in me which hasn’t seen much stimulation since the first Sam and Max adventure game, Sam and Max Hit the Road. Eclectic repartee aplenty, an alluring paper and cardboard cut out style slightly akin to Paper Mario and an interesting sticker mechanic coalesce to make Stick It To The Man! a wholly worthwhile experience. Developer Zoink! maintains Sweden’s track record of exporting strange and groovy stuff by crafting something truly unique that might undeservingly go unnoticed, which would be a shame; please, allow me to persuade you to help me not let that happen.
When something --anything-- starts with a Kenny Rogers jam about LSD, you know wacky, good times are ahead and right from the beginning the atmosphere is palpable with surreality. You see, it’s a shame about Ray; he’s floating through space and mostly enjoying the soothing sensation from the warmth of the sun on his papery flesh, but he’s in an otherwise tight spot. How did things come to be this way for Ray? You recount Ray’s final days and events that caused him to be gently careening through the cold, nothingness of space first hand. Ray's employed as a product tester testing hard hats, a physically demanding job to say the least. Unbeknownst to Ray, his noggin was about to face it’s greatest test, on his way home from work (all the way to the right) he’s violently struck by a container holding something top secret and dangerous. That’s the setup for all the craziness to follow and I desperately don’t want to spoil any more than that so I won’t say much else about how things unfold, sufficed to say it’s a hilariously great time.
The mechanics employed here are the best kind: simple and functional, deftly employing conventions from both adventure games and platformers, by no means reinventing the wheel. After his unfortunate accident, Ray can gain unique insight into situations by touching the brains of others with the noodly pink arm protruding from his cranium and can rip items from their thoughts as stickers, useful to help more different people out of assorted jams; it never hurts to help. The arm can also be used to manipulate things strewn about the environment and uncover various hidden areas in an almost picture book fashion. Context sensitive areas are highlighted by white circles that are quite hard to miss just as the stickers themselves have a white glow to them, denoting them as usable items. I had some minor issues when trying to read minds that were clustered together, but with some patience it you can persevere through it all because it is all very much worth it.
The platforming is adequate, never gets in the way and shouldn’t hinder your enjoyment of the bonkers, nonsense filled world set before you. You will need to use a combination of traditional jumping augmented with some nifty edge grabbing and the noodly arm as a sort of grapple to slingshot Ray from conveniently placed thumb tacs, sort of like Spider-Man. Now, I’ll be the first to admit to being pretty darn terrible at video games sometimes, but a few of the sections that had Ray sneaking past enemies required multiple attempts to finally deduce the correct sequence to advance. Ray has no way to combat enemies and being caught yields being sent back to the last triggered reprinting checkpoint, which are thankfully placed liberally throughout the world.
One of the strongest aspects of Stick It To The Man! has to be the writing, for pretty well every character and every event in the world that has been created. The wondrous script crept from the fantastical mind of Ryan North, a part of the bottled insanity of the Adventure Time writing team. The result is a level of uniqueness exhibited by very few other experiences and Stick It To The Man! will stay with me for some time, because of it’s punchy, clever writing that draws from a variety of sources to find the funny. outstanding voice acting from each actor involved complements the writing, really adding a nuance to the whole affair, nary a bunk performance in the lot. I get the feeling a fair amount of what I would call “love” went into Stick It To The Man! and it’s unabashedly apparent. A lot like Psychonauts, Stick It To The Man! finds sly ways to deal with the real problems we all face, like fear, uncertainty and rejection in a child like way full of whimsy.
The aesthetic, reminiscent of a shoebox diorama made of paper and cardboard, stuck together with glue and tape, it’s spectacular and serves to make the experience all the more vibrant. In contrast, the inhabitants of the world are gnarled, deformed and misshapen, reminding me of characters out of Invader Zim or Psychonauts and managing to exude just as much life with a limited range of motions. Stick It To The Man! has, no doubt, one of the most original looks I’ve seen from a game in a long time. It’s doesn’t have a retro pixel art style and it’s not a simulation survival game, in other words, it was an absolute delight. You’ll be smiling from start to finish at the imagery put together here, from the city Ray calls home to the loonie bin and beyond it’s was a real joy to play this.
Stick It To The Man! is definitely worth your money, your attention and perhaps most importantly your time. A fully realized atmospheric world, bloated and distended with savvy hilarity, full of puzzles that tickle the brain but never grate or frustrate with the inane developer logic of some puzzles in other adventure games. Something that might weight as a strike against Stick It To The Man! for some is the nearly non existent reason to play it again outside of purely enjoying the experience, but why is that so bad? Not every game has to go on forever, and Stick It To The Man! serves to be a fantastic one and done romp that will make you laugh, smile and have fun as a game video game should. Zoink! intelligently hasn’t overdone it, instead crafting a crisp experience with an organic pacing, puzzles and design; tell your friends, loved ones, and all the other jerks you know about Stick It To The Man!, and spread the zany, out of this world fun.
+ Fantastic stylistic design
+ Hilarious, quick witted and irreverent
+ Engaging puzzles that never get frustrating
+ Voice over work for everyone really brings life to the experience
- If you’re looking for length, this might not be the one
- Not enough of it
- No replay value might dissuade some
- I would have liked Ray to have a way to escape bad dudes, even just for a moment. meh