STAFF REVIEW of Stick It To The Man (Xbox One)

Friday, September 19, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Stick It To The Man Box art Humor in games can be difficult to pull off properly, but when it comes together, it can be a very memorable gaming experience that sticks with you for some time. Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, Sam and Max, Psychonauts, Secret of Monkey Island, and Deadpool are a few titles where comedy plays a big part of the whole game's experience and if it wasn't for the humor, the game wouldn't have been nearly the same experience. The same applies to this game; Stick It To The Man.

Stick It To The Man took me by surprise as it wasn't even in my radar before release (and released under the ID@Xbox program). Maybe I'm just a sucker for games that can make me laugh, but Stick It To The Man is the complete package, as it has unique visuals, entertaining platforming and puzzles, fantastic voice acting, and quirky jokes at every turn. For a game that I thought would be forgotten as soon as I was done, I had a fantastic time with it, even if it was a very short experience.

The story begins with Ray, a hardhat tester, who one day is in an accident that involves a mysterious government container that falls from the sky and cracks him on the head as it lands. Ray awakes to find that he was bandaged up but unaware of what happened to him. After a hilarious dream sequence and fully waking up, he takes off the bandages and discovers that there's a large pink spaghetti arm that is sticking out of his head, though apparently invisible to anyone but him.

The evil villain, simply known as 'The Man', wants Ray dead so that they can recover this life form that has fused itself to Ray. This new pink spaghetti arm though has special abilities and powers, some of which allow you to grapple to certain points in the environment, but more importantly, allows you to read anyone else’s mind and hear all of their more deepest and secret thoughts, of which the most hilarious jokes in the game comes through.

Rays world is visually impressive, as it looks as if everything is made out of cardboard and paper along a 2D plane. With Ray's pink spaghetti arm, he is able to interact with the world in specific ways, as many items can be manipulated by being folded and torn and then pulling stickers from places and using them elsewhere for hilarious results. One example of these sticker puzzles is that you need to stop the three headed conjoined brothers, who happen to be a luchador, from jumping on a trampoline, so once you solve another puzzle and acquire a glue sticker, you place that on the trampoline and voila, hilarity ensues and you progress!

The story is interesting enough to keep you moving forward, but the majority of the entertainment comes from reading people’s minds and solving puzzles in ludicrous yet hilarious ways. Sadly the game is only a few short hours long and once you've finished it there's really no replay value once you solved every puzzle and heard every joke. That being said, Stick It To The Man is entertaining and will have you laughing from start to finish if you have a sense of humor.

At its core, Stick It To The Man is a side scrolling platformer with puzzle elements. The pink spaghetti arm allows you to eavesdrop on people’s thoughts, giving you the hints you need to progress in the next puzzle or what you should be doing next. These puzzles is where the game shines, as they can be genuinely funny and challenging, usually due to its twisted sense of humor and wacky solutions. The jokes never have to try too hard to be funny either, as everything comes across as organic and the voice acting is wonderful throughout. There are many memorable characters you'll meet with your few short hours with the game, but a handful of them will really make you smile or laugh with their thoughts or personalities.

Levels are essentially large areas that Ray will have to traverse back and forth as he acquires new sticker items to use, allowing you to progress further in an area or with specific characters. To escape each area you'll need to read people’s minds, collect specific stickers, and figure out where to place them to finish each of the mini quests to progress. It's simplistic in formula but works very well with the comedy following suit at every turn. You're never outright told what to do with hint markers and there wasn't a puzzle that stumped me for too long as soon as you start to think of what the wacky solution could be no matter how farfetched it may be, akin to Monkey Island puzzles.

Visually, it's best described as a mix between Paper Mario 2D visuals mixed with a Psychonauts overtone and impressively comes together quite well. The fact that you can peel the side of a building off like a sticker or see the edges of the cardboard on objects adds to its distinct look. The soundtrack is very fitting and fits the mood and theme of what's going on around Ray at all times as well.

Stick It To The Man has a unique style, not only visually, but in how it engages you and keeps the jokes coming in a genuine and funny way. Puzzle games can sometimes become tiresome after a while, but with the jokes moving you forward and the wacky solutions, you'll enjoy solving each puzzle and not grow tired of it. It never takes itself too seriously, I mean really, it's a pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his head, but the pacing and level design is well done and I had a fantastic time playing it start to finish. My only complaint is the accuracy of using your pink spaghetti arm can be a challenge in specific moments, but the rest of the game's strengths far outweigh this complaint. Plus, what other game has jokes about Silver Surfer for the NES?

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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