by Graham Taylor
It started off like any other day. Just as Ray left his busy job, he took a little bump to the head, and suddenly, he’s in the middle of a cognitive crisis and a government conspiracy.
Stick it to the Man! is a 2.5D platforming/puzzle game. You play as Ray, an everyman living a good life in a world made of paper and stickers. That is until a bit of head trauma turns his world upside down. After regaining consciousness in a hospital, Ray notices a “pink spaghetti” with a hand coming out of his head. It turns out this is actually some sort of super weapon, which leads The Man and his agents to hunt Ray down in this peculiar, psychological adventure.
Recovering from the accident and learning to live with this new appendage, Ray gains a whole new outlook on life and some psychic powers to boot. First and foremost, he gains the ability to read minds. This obviously gives him insight to other characters’ thoughts and motivations, and will drive much of the puzzle-solving elements.
He can also use the arm to manipulate the world around him and influence people’s thoughts by removing and replacing stickers accordingly. Finally, Ray can use the arm to grapple on to strategically placed thumbtacks throughout the level and swing to them. This is the focus of the platforming, most of the time involves him avoiding Agents of The Man.
The game’s main pull is that the story and puzzles revolve around a dry, silly humor.
For example, there is an instance in where you need to find a tool to inflate a “something”. To do this, you steal a character’s eyes, and use them to scare another character, who in turn start hyperventilating into a paper bag. You then take this bag and use it to inflate a dead whale, completing your makeshift raft, and escape from an asylum.
It all sounds a bit crazy, and that’s because it is. Ray is constantly questioning his sanity for the better part of the game.
This is far from conventional puzzle-solving. It keeps you interested and entertained, wondering how exactly you are going to conquer future challenges.
The visuals in the Stick it to the Man! are very well done, with everything resembling papercraft materials. Locales will range from bustling cities, worn down circuses, an asylum, and multiple trips into Ray’s mind.
While most of these levels themselves are dark, the characters are a cast colorful caricatures; an overly exaggerated psychologist, an opera star who dreams of being a mime, and even The Man himself are just three examples of the fun personas who inhabit the games world.
All in all, Stick it to the Man! doesn’t reinvent either genre, but it doesn’t need to. The puzzles and platforming the are at its core pretty basic, but this is more of a game about the experience.
It created an extraordinary world, full of extraordinary people, put you in the middle of an extraordinary situation, and just lets you have fun with it and enjoy the ride, without gameplay interfering. Its offbeat and odd, and hard not to get stuck on it.