By Guy Rainey / September 17th, 2014
|Title||Stick it to the Man|
|Release Date||December 13, 2013|
|Platform||PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Wii U|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
Stick It to The Man… uh, where do I even start? Stick It to The Man is one of the most bizarre games I have ever played. I guess the simplest way I would describe it, is imagine Psychonauts as more of a standard old-school adventure game, instead of a 3D platformer. If that sounds awesome to you, you may be the right audience for this game.
We start out with Ray, a character who’s been hit on the head with something that fell out of government transport, and now has a strange arm coming out of his head that only he seems to be able to see. With this arm, he can read minds, pull objects called Stickers out of people’s thoughts and place those objects in the physical world to solve puzzles. There’s a mysterious figure known only as “The Man” who wants the arm for himself, hence the name Stick It to The Man. Ray has to figure out what happened to cause this mysterious condition, while avoiding the agents The Man has assembled to catch him.
I played on the Wii U, and that had a clear advantage over other versions of the game. If you play in Off-TV Mode, you can touch the target you want to interact with. This is far easier than using the second control stick like you would on other systems. In On-TV mode, the GamePad displays a map. I only used the map a few times in the whole game, and it’s just a button press away in Off-TV Mode, so, if you play on Wii U, I highly recommend you play in mostly Off-TV Mode.
Aesthetically, Stick It to The Man looks odd, and that suits the game. It’s styled in a cardboard cutout sort of way. The characters are all two dimensional, sort of like Paper Mario. Again, odd, but it fits the whole theme of the game. The music isn’t bad, but isn’t particularly memorable, either. “Serviceable” is the only word I really have to describe the presentation.
Stick It to The Man is an adventure game, wrapped in a 2.5D platformer skin. You have some jumps, but mostly it’s about the wacky puzzles with some annoying stealth sections thrown in for good measure. The stealth sections are problematic, mostly because you get the tools for completing while trying to do them. For instance, some guards are tired, and you need to read their minds, so that they’ll think about sleeping. You can use the sleep sticker on any guard. However, in many instances, you’ll need to put yourself in danger to get the sleep sticker, so you have to go back to the last checkpoint for no good reason. The gameplay is functional, at least, if not terribly fun. But that comes with the territory. So long as the story is compelling, it shouldn’t matter. If you play the classic adventure games, and focus on the game itself, it’s about walking around and clicking on stuff until something happens. Without the context of a great story, it gets old really fast. But the story is so compelling, that you are willing to put up with the gameplay to see it through to the end.
Watching Ray get dragged along into increasingly ridiculous scenarios is entertaining, but the minute-to-minute jokes are… odd. I really get the sense that I’m not the target audience for the humor here. It’s like they were trying to channel the wonderful weirdness of Tim Schafer (Psychonauts), but only picked up the crudest of his jokes. If you like crude and juvenile humor, you will get much more enjoyment out of this game than I did. Stick It to The Man is not a long game. I beat the game in a little over four hours, and I got stuck a couple times. The puzzles are mostly straightforward: you’ll see a puzzle, and you’ll know what you need to solve it. You’ll just keep finding puzzles until you find one you have the object to solve it with, then work your way to the final puzzle. Straightforward puzzles are not a bad thing; I didn’t have to break out a walkthrough once. But puzzles are the speed bumps in adventure games; if the story, characters and world aren’t engaging, then there’s nothing there.
I’m still not completely sure how I feel about this game. There’s nothing objectively wrong with the game. This is going to fall more on personal taste lines than usual. On the one hand, the weirdness and ridiculousness of the game is something we don’t see often; on the other, the humor just really isn’t my thing, and there’s not really a lot of story here. At $15, I’m not sure that this is something I’d recommend to just anybody. If you like what you see in the trailer, you’ll probably get your money’s worth. For everyone else, you might want to wait for some kind of sale, so you can more easily accept the potentially bad with the oddly engaging weirdness.
Review copy provided by the publisher
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