Did you play Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, and Full Throttle and wish there were more games like them? Stick it to the Man! has recently come out for PlayStation 4 and follows in the vein of Tim Schafer’s classics. With its quirky style, funny dialogue, and great gameplay design, Stick it to the Man! offers up a blend of adventure and platforming that is well worth the download if you are a PlayStation Plus member.
What is It?
Comparisons to Double Fine’s recent titles and Tim Schafer’s classics can’t be avoided. Stick it to the Man! looks and feels like something they would have created. But strangely, they didn’t.
Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will be up to you to decide, but without any concession, it’s easy to say this is a very good game in its own right. There is little replay value and the game is relatively easy, but Stick it to the Man! is the kind of adventure game which offers enough content and a refreshing appearance which will keep the player engaged and motivated to finish.
You play as Ray Doewood, a sort of Woody Allen-esque nerd who is constantly thinking or talking to himself. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about Ray until a strange canister falls from the sky, striking him on the head, and gives him the ability to use his mind in new and extraordinary ways.
From this event, he gains the power to read minds and grapple onto physical objects that allow him to traverse the landscape in a way he hadn’t been able to before. This is, of course, an obvious gameplay mechanic, but it is useful, fun to use, and helps the plot along. By reading the minds of his fellow citizens, you learn about their desires and also the happenings around town.
This head-arm that has grown from his mind is pink, elastic, and the mechanism by which you engage the world Ray lives in. Certainly, there’s not much action in this game and much of its charm comes from the witty dialogue. But generally speaking, it’s a fun—albeit short—romp which should be mostly memorable to anyone who gives it a shot.
Why Should I Care?
If you like classic adventure games or even if you like platformers, you’ll find something endearing about Stick it to the Man! It’s original in the sense it is not like most games on the market, but it’s unoriginal in the sense it clearly riffs off classic Tim Schafer titles. To me, the latter is certainly a good thing.
What was so interesting about this title is that its humor is remarkably dark and also a little neurotic. It never traverses the line which should not be crossed, making dark humor something inaccessible or offensive, but it toes that line with clarity and class. To people who are looking for something merely quirky and silly, it’ll certainly fill that void; but to those who like something a little darker and therefore more refreshing, Stick it to the Man! does the trick and it does it well.
Visually, the style is also excellent. There’s a great 2D design which captures the sort of neon future look we are seeing in so many modern games. This time, the visuals strictly adhere to the paper cutout gimmick but certainly don’t resemble any other game like it. Another example of this visual style would be Paper Mario, but this game actually looks radically different when you see it in motion.
Why is it Worth My Time and Money?
If you’ve already played Stick it to the Man! then this PlayStation 4 release is not worth purchasing. But if you’ve never tried it before, this is going to be one of the better digital downloads so far on the system. Right now, assuming you are a member of PlayStation Plus, you can net Stick it to the Man! for no price at all. It’s free. But if you aren’t a member and will have to pay for it, buyer beware: there’s no replay value. It’s short, it’s easy, and other than its fun and interesting atmosphere or plot, there isn’t much here to praise.
The design is pretty simple. You basically do the same sorts of things again and again. That said, if you find the characters endearing and the particular gameplay mechanic fun then you’ll really get a kick out of this title. This was the first time I had played the game and I am a fan of the Tim Schafer style, so I was very happy with what Stick it to the Man! offered. But to say this is a universal must-have would be an overstatement.
Basically, Stick it to the Man! is a commendable effort and proves that when developers really want to be funny, they are. They don’t have to rely on cheap tricks and pop-culture references to get a laugh, but can do it by delving into the deep recess of the neurotic mind. There’s a lot to like assuming it’s up your alley.
In all seriousness or silliness, Stick it to the Man! is a great game.