Stick it to the Man is one of those games that is just plain bizarre, it’s a game which constantly made me question what on earth the creators were eating or drinking when producing it … pure LSD? It takes a certain kind of whacky person to produce a game like this. And I truly mean out right, Ren and Stimpy whacky.
The game itself plays well and is entertaining, of a sort, for the 6 hours worth you will be getting, if not a little frustrating at times. In the bulk of it you will find yourself exploring the levels through jumping and getting about using the magic hand to manoeuvre through the game (it acts as a grappling hook basically). You play as Ray, who starts of as a surprisingly normal guy in a dead end job. Then one night on his walk home, something crashes into the earth in front of him, where you meet a little dude who just so happens to like Ray, enough to want to climb inside his head! When Ray awakes again, he finds a purple hand sticking out his forehead. He quickly discovers that the hand actually gives him the ability to read minds. From here on, Ray runs into shit in every corner and is wanted for stealing something that simply crashed head long into him and decided to stay. You embark on a rollercoaster of weirdness as you try to decipher what is real and what is going on inside Ray’s mind. Nothing seems to make sense, and will happen for the sake of it. So expect some cliché love moments as well as weird romantic matches, crazy animals and just out right nutters and there you have the game. Take the scene where a guy is made pregnant all because another woman thinks of pregnancy, you grab the “thought” and stick it on the unsuspecting dude within the scene who becomes pregnant. He then simply accepts it!
You will also be reading every character’s mind that you come across to provide hints on your next steps. These can trigger a thought bubble to appear which can then be grabbed with the “spaghetti hand”. It’s then a matter of finding where to place the thought sticker, which is aided by the fact that it can only be placed in the correct location in order to create a chain event, which normally is followed by a “funny” speech or scene from the characters involved. Although it’s quite simple once you’ve explored the level what character is asking for what.
In between this you need to avoid an agent who is bent on capturing you. He also really needs to stop spending all night eating burrito’s. The theme occurs that you read minds in a wish fulfillment type of way, which allows you to progress on through. Also the fact that you don’t have a life system means you can just mess up as much as you want and keep getting “reprinted”.
The music doesn’t add massive amounts to the game, nor is it a genius art piece. However, for the type of game, you don’t need anything fancy, it does the job of atmospherics relating to the scenario wanting which usually wants to send you on a bit of a trip. As well as key moments of “oh I’ve been spotted, better play the chase music!”. I do love the main theme though, and like the Borderlands theme, I found myself listening to it outside of the game. “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was innnnnn”. Something Fern Cotton might call a “tune”.
The cartoony cardboard approach does look great, really doing the game justice, and though it may be based on a side scrolling animated TV show set, there are bits running in the background all in the 2D element. In my eyes, it’s graphically impressive, though not in comparison to the big boys with their shiny full HD realism, kind of impressive. More in a creative design type way, with the backdrops and levels that just bob along as you play through. Details are then focused on where it’s required to give you a focal point on who and what you are supposed to be interacting with.
Don’t be expecting a straight up cinematic experience here. You’re basically entering the world where a man has a “spaghetti hand” coming out of his head allowing mind reading abilities. I think that alone says that what you’ll be witnessing is nothing short of “wtf” moments.
The good parts
– The jokes and one liners that appear are quite chuckle worthy. Though the good ones that stand out are sadly not as often as i’d like.
– The voice acting is brilliant for a small title. Where you need to see the credits to actually see how little people are doing so many of the voices.
– A map, though is normally key in a game, isn’t always helpful. So when in this case, the map actually does what it is supposed to do, telling where you need to go. This makes the game flow smoothly pointing out where you need to investigate.
The not so good parts
– Having to listen through every persons mind, okay yes you can fast forward but then you don’t want to feel like you’ve missed out on a potentially funny one liner or piece of info related to the story. Also there’s a trophy for it … which makes for a few dull moments.
– The absurbidity of it all may not be every ones cuppa’ tea, and I wouldn’t say it was mine. I originally found it difficult to keep playing through, and it’s a game that I wouldnt be able to do in one sitting, for sure. But it was a game that did have me coming back until I saw it through.
– Messy controls. The annoying moment where you mind read one of the guards who are standing there like a lemon. See the sticker you need to grab to distract him, aim for it, hit R1, then instead of grabbing the sticker, you grab the pin right behind him, zooming you into a grab, zap and death routine.
In total, the fact that it is currently free on PlayStation Plus, there’s no excuse not to download it. I could also maybe see myself paying up to £5.00 for it, if I had missed the band wagon, but any more and I would be questioning why and what I am getting for it.
In short, great game for a little indie title, it’s got a few laughs up its sleeves, and acts as a fun puzzle game for a few hours of your time. But one I personally wouldn’t rush out to buy (when you have to) with other indies like Fez and Hotline Miami on the market to grab. If you’re into your weird dark humour types, then this could be all you, I’m just not insane enough to think it awesome.