Stick It to The Man! was developed and published by Zoink Games. It was released August 28, 2014 on Xbox One and Xbox 360 for $9.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.
It has been an awfully long time since the likes of Braid, Limbo and Super Meat Boy first began to demonstrate just how innovative and enjoyable smaller, digitally delivered titles could be. Unbelievably, though, there are still independent studios out there that continue to push the envelope. With Stick it to the Man!, Zoink games have done exactly that, delivering an entertaining, polished and highly amusing puzzle/platform game that oozes originality from every pore.
Here’s what we liked:
Point, stick and twist – Stick it is a really interesting game with a totally unique premise. Main character Ray is a happy-go-lucky kind of chap who tests hard hats for a living – to cut a short story even shorter, we join Ray right before he has an accident with an unidentified falling object that causes a pink spaghetti arm to grow from his head. This arm soon becomes the focus of the game as Ray uses it to navigate through his papercraft world. Initially, navigation takes the form of pure and simple platform gaming, but very shortly afterwards it becomes clear that Stick it is actually a lighthearted, semi-logical puzzler driven by the mind-reading abilities Ray is granted by his spaghetti arm. Think of it as a modern-day twist on the Monkey Island school of puzzling.
Comedy value – Stick it is a similarly amusing game to Monkey Island with its charming, papercraft art style and a whimsical, throwaway story that houses both zany characters and wacky puzzles absolutely perfectly. Not only are almost all of the jokes and puzzles genuinely funny on a universal level, but often, they feature an amount of wit or sarcasm — usually levelled at the games industry — that makes the player feel just a little bit smug about themselves. For example, a NES Silver Surfer reference is inserted that inspired a feeling that it had been written just for me thanks to an old childhood memory. But at the same time, the crazy guy throwing out the reference is funny in his own right, and anyone who doesn’t quite “get” the joke won’t know or care. Stick it to the Man! is absolutely full of moments like this, and each one makes it a joy to play.
Plenty to get your teeth into – Although it never reaches the demoralising, keyboard-bashing depths of difficulty that point and click puzzlers of yesteryear did, Stick it still presents players with a relatively stiff challenge across a large and interesting range of levels. The lighthearted story probably won’t keep you ploughing onwards, but the amusing jokes and compelling desire to read minds — and in turn unlock puzzles — almost certainly will, and in the end you’ll be happy you did.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Nothing, everything – By accepting (or not) that Stick it is just one of the most bonkers (and wonderful) experiences available on the Xbox One. You’re essentially deciding whether or not to like it before you even try it. After all, it is a two-dimensional platform-puzzle game about a fellow who ends up with an alien spaghetti arm that grants telepathic abilities growing out of his head. You then proceeds to leap about the papercraft world helping people with problem situations which vary between insane (at the tame end) and absolute stark raving lunacy.
And that is Stick it to The Man! in a nutshell — you’ll probably either love it or hate it. As it happens, I was at first absolutely certain that this would be one of those “tries too hard to be funny” games that actually ends up being absolutely hateful, but it’s a pleasure to report that such a summary could not have been further from the truth. Stick it to The Man! is innovative, amusing, charming and bucketloads of fun.
Score: Buy It