Title: Stick It To The Man
System(s): PS3 (Vita in December)
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Ripstone (Zoink!)
The highly anticipated release of the PlayStation 4 is only days away. I know we’re excited and can’t wait to see all the graphical enhancements the console is sure to bring us. But before you fully take the next-gen plunge, I implore you to have one final romp with the PS3 and an upcoming PSN game called Stick It to the Man. Stick It to the Man is perhaps one of the last great indie games of the PS3 era. Its humor is top notch, the voice acting is superb and the subject matter in general is pleasantly refreshing.
The story revolves around Ray, a regular guy who doesn’t really excel in anything. However, despite being a bit of a simpleton, Ray is a kind soul who doesn’t shy away from helping others. His helpful nature is the crux of the game, but his actions also help move him along in his journey to find out more about a mysterious hand that’s growing out of his head. See, I told you this game was refreshing.
Let’s Give’m a Hand
Ray’s adventure begins with him getting hit on the head by a capsule that falls from the sky. Upon awakening, he notices he has a purple-ish stringy hand coming out of his head. Ray is the only person that can see the hand, and it makes the player wonder whether or not the hand is even real. But before the true nature of the hand is revealed, Ray has to use it to its full potential.
The hand has a few main functions: reading minds, platforming and transporting items. The mind reading is by far the best mechanic in the game. Reading minds reveals a character’s inner most thoughts and feelings that Ray can use to solve puzzles. For example, one of the first puzzles involves a man who wants to commit suicide because the woman he loves left him for a man who had perfect teeth. When you find the new couple and read the woman’s mind, you discover that she’ll date anyone that has perfect teeth. After a sequence of events, you end up taking the teeth from her new boyfriend and giving it to the suicidal guy. Problem solved. Every item you can interact with comes in sticker form. This is appropriate because the character’s themselves are flat and paper-like.
I really liked the art direction in this game. It’s reminiscent of a flat 2D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The colors absolutely pop on every level you visit. The eccentric look of the characters is further complimented by the fantastic voice acting. Dialogue is such an important factor in this game, and the cast nails it. I must give a big compliment to Ty Konzak for showing incredible range when voicing multiple characters.
Although most of the characters are harmless, you do have some opposition throughout the game. Goons hired by The Man actively search for Ray and can take him down instantly if he gets too close. Ray has no offense against these guys, so he has to use his wits to get around them. These sections of the game rely mostly on clever platforming to outsmart the AI. Even if you do get caught, you’ll instantly respawn nearby. Stick It To The Man is very generous with checkpoints and saves very frequently, so you don’t have to worry about losing a lot of progress. I really appreciated this especially since I ran into a bugs that prevented me from selecting the correct sticker to complete a puzzle. A quick restart of the game solved that problem without sacrificing my progress. I’m sure this is fixable in an update, but I still wanted to point it out.
Stick It to the Man isn’t just all about helping random citizens. It’s also about Ray’s journey to help himself. There are moments when you enter into Ray’s conscious and learn more about his life and experiences. These were my favorite moments of the game because they had a real Psychonauts vibe to them. I felt traveling through Ray’s mind was essential to finding out the real deal behind the hand growing out of his head.
The progression of the story was both good and bad. For most of the journey, I felt clues were gradually presented to expose the real nature of the hand and Ray’s mental state. But by the end of the game, it was like those potential revelations were thrown out. The walks through Ray’s mind, the inclusion of similar looking characters in different sections of the game and a certain serious accusation thrown at Ray were classic signs of a disconnected mind. These things were too hard to ignore and yet they weren’t fully addressed in the end. It’s as if the direction of the story changed halfway through development, but there wasn’t enough time to redo the first third of the game to match the new ending. I also felt the antagonist, known as The Man, was there only for appearances. That’s pretty much why I barely mentioned him in this review. He’s not a threatening character, and doesn’t contribute much to the overall experience.
Stick It To Your Hard Drive
If it weren’t for the misstep in story towards the end of the game, I would have virtually nothing bad to say about this game. It embodies so many things that make up a fun game. It’ll could take you around 4-5 hours to finish the game, and it’s entertaining every step of the way. Stick It To The Man is a great way to send off the PS3. If this is the last game you play on that console, I promise your final memory of it will bring a smile to your face.