Friday, 10 January 2014

Stick It To The Man! (Video Game Review)

Almost feeling like a throwback to the days of classic Lucasarts, Stick It To The Man! is a strange and rarely seen breed of video game. Combining together elements of platforming and point-and-click adventure, it’s driven primarily by its art gags and visual style as much as its mechanics. While not the most perfect balance of all these elements, it none the less proves to be an interesting ride from beginning to end.

You play as Ray, whose boring if relatively happy life with his girlfriend Arlene is rudely interrupted when an object falls from the sky. Awaking in hospital, he’s revealed to have a giant florescent pink object sticking out of his head no one else can see. While giving him the beneficial powers of telepathy and mind manipulation, it’s unfortunately soon proven to have a few catches…

Every mechanic surrounds his hand from grasping onto the various tacks which hold together Ray’s papercraft world and fling him around to picking the brains of others. This assists with the platforming, which is unfortunately often basic if serviceable, but it’s with its other abilities the fun begins.

The title’s name refers, at least in part, to Ray’s ability to use stickers to outwit his foes and misdirect them. Doing everything from planting his face on an enemy agent to putting people to sleep, you have to often stop and think about what you are doing rather than just rushing ahead. This introduces many stealth elements and tactical planning, which come across fairly well. Not to mention the stories behind the puzzles themselves are as nuts as you’d expect. Just wait until you get to the one with the crocodile.

Unfortunately, there are two failings. The first is that the tutorials do a bad job of explaining what is what. Most of the time you’d do a better to just guess and go from there, as many prove to be surprisingly unhelpful. This goes double for the PC port which has more than a few notable issues in this regard. The other is the reliance upon cut-scenes. On the one hand this is where the game shines with great writing and voice acting. On the other the game is sometimes so full of these it makes Beyond: Two Souls look reserved, often slowing down the plot. They’re fun to be sure, but you can probably watch a compiled video of them on Youtube and have as much fun. It just lacks feelings of interactivity.

If you’re after something surreal and different from the usual brand of titles, give this one a look. It’s far from perfect and don’t expect to play though it more than once though.

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