Stick It To The Man Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), PS3, PS Vita, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One
Stick It To The Man sticks you with Ray, who is something of a loser all around, not necessarily failing in life, but is still something of a dimwit without much in terms of ideas or skills beyond being relatively calm and nice after his paper based world gets torn slightly. An imperfection that leads to an object smacking into his head, giving him the ability to manipulate arbitrary determined objects in this world while also becoming a mind reader. This eccentric starting point initially appears to be, and very much is, enough to base a quirky and interesting story heavy point and click adventure. Yet I actually found much of what I would mention in my introductory story paragraphs to be more than a little lacking in this particular title if only for how scatterbrained and impatient its story is.
I did map out and describe the plot to myself as the story reached the end, and I was more than a little bit surprised at the jumps made, particularly through the bizarre sense of logic which the game follows. I mentioned how Ray can arbitrarily pull objects out of the environment, along with from and into people’s minds, and that is where quite a lot of the progression bases itself, meaning that just about any means of getting from point A to B seems to be achieved by Ray getting lucky by finding exactly what he needs in order to get there. Yet a similar approach is handled with the fifty or so characters in the game, all of which are given as distinct a voice as the cast of thirteen voice actors can manage while remaining appropriate in the game’s odd world, and most of which exist for Ray to have a reason to get a single item. I would actually be more lenient towards this decision if the game did happen to offer some form of development for about any of these characters, but even Ray and his titular antagonist, The Man, who is after his unique abilities, lacks such care, as most characters never move from one spot, or if they do, they are rarely ever given anything to be aside from tropes.
This does not, however, mean that I did not enjoy travelling through the world and meeting the oddball cast who Ray admittedly seldom actually speaks to. The game is ultimately attempting to be humorous, and if my fairly constant smile and regular chuckles to the script were any indicator, it did succeed in doing that much. That said, its emphasis on being stylistic, which it goes for by having abnormally proportioned and designed characters, models that are actually 2D images placed on paper like 3D objects, a cardboard environment with draw background characters and objects, and unusual premise, didn’t very much hold me over either.
While there is nothing in its unique style that I found unappealing, the game very much relies on its style above all else, which naturally places it under more pressure than I believe most games to be able to withstand, and Stick It To The Man is no exception. It simply gets more than a little tired after the game’s fairly short length due to how little else there is aside from its large chapter based set pieces. Even in terms of gameplay, you are effectively picking up items and putting them in designated item placement locations in order to be granted with either a neat bit of dialog or narrative progress. That, and often a cutscene that lacks any real form of dramatic or dynamic movement, as the final visuals are seldomly intricate, and, especially with mind reading, barely worth looking at.
Although that is helped by what is either an isolated incident with just me, or an overall not very good PC port, as the actual resolution and image quality were far lower than what I know the game should be capable of. From an max resolution of 768p on my 1680 by 1050 monitor to a general blur that diluted the detail of every bit of imagery this game, and this game alone, had to offer, saying I was dissatisfied would be apt. Especially when the game does have a variety of visual glitches and bits where the title’s 3D models intersect with the 2D art, namely during just about every single mind reading.
I even feel as if I can blame the camera’s positioning when it applies to the simplistic stealth sections the game implements for what felt like a cross between genuine narrative reasons and a desire to have something more reflex intensive than walking around. However, these sections eventually became something I considered to be luck based above all else, as near the end your field of vision is so small that when I used Ray’s ability to swing across the screen using push pins, I often was spotted immediately due to a guard’s pattern, which I could not observe as there was no good spot to observe it from. This resulted in me rushing through and hoping that luck was on my side, as the strategy the game requests you to utilize requires more finesse with the right stick and D-pad while moving with the left analog stick than I had. Also patience as even requiring the tools necessary to perform such an action is a needlessly time consuming process.
I’m aware I tend to focus on the negatives even in positive reviews, but I actually did find Stick It To The Man to be endearing, if only to a degree. Nothing about it is particularly bad or poorly crafted, but there is very little about it that I found to be all that compelling aside from how it is distinct amongst the majority of other games. It represents many things I’d very much enjoy to see more of, but as a package tied together it is either a bit leaky or not very sturdy, and something I’d respond to the question of its quality with a simple shrug while saying, “yeah, it’s pretty neat”.
By no means something that must be played, but not entirely worth pushing aside forever. The title is ultimately above average and keeps the good balanced with the bad by a noticeable enough margin to still be worth picking up… at a discount.
Next week is E3, so there may not be a review going up. I could’ve saved this one, but… nah.