Frivolous Waste of Time

Sci-fi, fantasy and video games

Stick it to the Man for PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC and Mac

Oh wow, I really loved this game. I just had such a blast playing it. Stick it to the Man scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had in a big way, and is easily my favourite free PS+ game released so far.

Our hero Ray is a hard hat tester at a local factory; on his way home, he is ironically hit on the head by a falling object from space. After some bizarre dreams, he awakes in hospital with a giant pink arm coming out of his head which lets him read minds. Yep. Pursued by the henchmen of the shadowy figure known as ‘The Man’, our charmingly idiotic hero stumbles from one situation to the other.

So, that itch I mentioned? Let’s call it…Schaferian. As much as I loved Broken Age, its melancholy and gently funny narrative lacked the twisted darkness of Psychonauts or Grim Fandango. Stick it to the Man has that in spades, filling that niche for darkly comic adventure games nicely. Ray is an engaging and likeable protagonist, and supported by a range of hilarious recurring and one-off characters. Most of all, it’s really funny, but there’s a palpable aura of menace to the proceedings.

Stick it to the Man is an adventure game at heart, with the main gimmick being the way in which the player interacts with the world, namely the aforementioned giant pink arm. It can be used to swing Ray through the 2D environments, adding an enjoyable manoeuvrability generally lacking in adventure games. Ray uses this arm to peel objects from the environment to stick elsewhere, solving the generally extremely simple puzzles. It also allows Ray to read minds, which offers more than just amusing dialogue, with their thoughts sometimes manifesting as a sticker to be used elsewhere. It’s odd really; Stick it to the Man has some of the most ridiculous examples of ‘adventure game logic’ that I’ve ever seen, but it commits itself so thoroughly to the insanity that in the end it all works.

What doesn’t quite work are stealth sections of sorts, where Ray must evade henchmen of ‘The Man.’ These are either achieved by skilfully moving through the environment, or using stickers to trick the henchmen. There’s not much thought involved, and a lot of trial and error. There’s very minor punishment for failure, but it’s enough to break up the flow of the game slightly. It does play the role of contributing to the atmosphere of menace, but I wonder if there was a way to do so which was slightly more…well, fun.

The voice acting is wonderful. It’s generally completely goofy and over the top, but always incredibly funny. This world is just packed with character, with everything from teddy bears to goldfish available to mind read. The visual style is striking and oddly creepy, using a paper aesthetic which fits in nicely with the sticker theme. The music is good as well, with the very welcome appearance of Kenny Rodgers with Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition Was In), made most famous in The Big Lebowski, wrapping up the whole thing in an undeniable energy of laid back cool.

Stick it to the Man is probably the best paper style sticker based game ever made (take that Paper Mario: Sticker Star!) It’s hard for me to review this game objectively, because it was free and pushed my buttons so damn much. Leave it to say that I absolutely loved it, and I hope you all do too.stick_it_to_the_man

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