From developers Zoink, comes Stick It To The Man for PS3 and PS Vita a game in which your unfortunate hero must use his newly acquired powers to help himself and his loved ones.
You know how it is, you’ve just finished a long shift at the hard hat testing company and while on your way home an object falls from the sky and hits you in the head… Oh the irony! Next thing you know, is that you have a pink hand coming from your brain and your life gets turned upside down. That is the premise of Stick It To The Man.
As a game, Stick It To The Man has a lot going for it, notably the use of humour and an interesting graphic style. From the start, the humour in the writing is there to see, it isn’t side-splitting funny it isn’t on a par with the world’s best stand-up comics, or the best sitcoms. However, it does make you have a little chuckle all the way through and never tries to push things too far, nor does it get to a stage where the humour gets too dull.
The visuals too are really well done and there seems to be a vibe of 90’s based cartoons with them. A Ren & Stimply or Rocko’s Modern Life feel. It is crude, but the imagery fits perfectly with the humour and also the game play mechanics that go with it.
There is some fantastic writing, that is woven together in a natural way. As part of your ongoing quest, you will have to read the minds of the characters around the various levels. Each character has a different thought and by using your pink alien hand thing, you can dive into their brains and extract their thoughts. Now whilst these are amusing they also have a vital role to play in the overall gameplay mechanic.
If anything, Stick It To The Man, feels like a modern re-imagining of the Dizzy games. It has that same idea of telling you your immediate goal, but then having you achieve that goal by completing other smaller tasks across each level. In dizzy it was a case of go to this part to retrieve this, to get to there, unlock that, get this and so on, until you finally had what you needed to make proper progression.
Here the concept is the same, you find your main goal, read a character’s mind, then try to help them, but to help them, you need to read the mind of other characters in the level, but to get what you need from them, you need to find others who may have the part needed. but needing to help them also. It can lead to some complex patterns and areas that need to be finished in order, but that works, it works well and is genuinely enjoyable to solve these puzzles.
The way you solve these puzzles, is by essentially finding a placing stickers in the right places, some of which are only acquired once performing the right task for the right character. This would be difficult enough, if it wasn’t for the secret agents hunting you at every turn. These guys want to know why and how you have you powers and will stop at nothing to find out. Luckily you can also read their thoughts, once you have read an agents thoughts, you get a sticker that puts them to sleep, thus allowing you to sneak by undetected. However, the moment they spot you, they will be relentless in their pursuit and once caught, you are eliminated.
Early levels are pretty standard and easy to complete, however as the game progresses the agents are harder to avoid and the puzzles become a little more complex. This all happens without becoming frustrating and the game can be finished in a few hours. The pacing is pretty much spot on, with levels and the game as whole never really out staying its welcome.
Whilst this is available on both the PS3 and PS Vita, it is the handheld version that plays best. Not because there are any technical issues, or anything to that effect. It is simply a game that feels more at home on Sony’s handheld, playing in bite-sized chunks just feels right, maybe a level at a time, during a bit of downtime from your normal life. It plays fine on the PS3 though and it will just be a preference thing more than anything.
Stick It To The Man is a great example of the sort of game that wasn’t happening a few short years ago, a game that wouldn’t have had an audience, but thanks to the Indie revolution on consoles, this type of inventive game has a home. There is a lot of fun to be had with this title and is a cracking showcase of how to build on some tried and tested formulas.