Stuck on an Island
Stick It to the Man is one of the most gross looking games I have ever played, and I love it for that. Ray, the protagonist and professional hard hat tester, is walking home from work one night when a container holding a mysterious creature strikes him on the head. From there he awakes to find himself on what seems to be a desert island, but appearances are deceiving.
From the outset you can tell Stick It to the Man will be a goofy game with its paper cutout art style and Ray’s profession of testing hard hats. The humor in the game had me laughing at times, rolling my eyes at others, and scratching my head at their use of stereotypes (see Indian taxi driver). Despite the humor sometimes missing the mark of tastefulness, most of the jokes in the game were well delivered.
At one point in the “desert island” area they purposely over-explain where Ray actually is which gave me a good chuckle. The part that makes that joke successful is found throughout the game where your hand is not held through any part of the gameplay. Stick It to the Man is not by any means a difficult game, but I like that it just lets you play and figure out the game’s puzzles by yourself. The only assistance given to you is a map for each level which is detailed enough to help, but not to give away how to solve the puzzles.
Continuing with the serious tone of Stick It to the Man, Ray’s main tool for puzzle solving is a giant pink arm growing from his head. He first gains this arm following the impact from the capsule, and it doesn’t take long for Ray to realize he can use the arm for many purposes like mind reading or clearing gaps that are too far to jump across. The gameplay somewhat reminded me of Little Big Planet since you solve puzzles by placing stickers throughout the environment, but also because of the floaty platforming. However, the puzzles are essentially all fetch quests complete with backtracking.
The amount of backtracking in every level can be a bit of a pain due to the floaty platforming. However, in some of the bigger levels there are tubes you can use to travel large distances in a short amount of time. They help make backtracking less of a chore and lessen the amount of time you have to spend jumping and running.
The platforming is clearly not supposed to be the focus of the game, but that’s still not a good excuse for the lack of precision. It’s no doubt that the humorous story is the star of Stick It to the Man, but I can’t look past the loose feeling of controlling Ray. I’m not just talking about jumps either, there were multiple locations throughout the game where a small lip on flat ground would halt Ray in his tracks. I could see that being fine if it was a part of an obstacle with a pursuing enemy, but each situation was in an open area with no danger in sight which leads me to believe it was simply a design oversight. I also encountered a problem with the captions where the text would sometimes not match the lines verbatim and one time even failed to come up correctly altogether.
Despite these design issues, the art in this game is beautiful. Stick It to the Man doesn’t have your typical kind of classic beauty, it’s more that all the art in the game fits so well in the world it’s in. It’s beautifully disgusting. The maps in this game were my favorite pieces of art because they always included some mash-up of the gross-looking characters in this game. Like the rest of the game it’s not anything over the top, but there is beauty in its simplicity and hideousness.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Stick It to the Man was provided by Zoink Games for this review.