Stick it to The Man – As We Play

Format – PlayStation 4

Playstation 4 has been receiving some quality titles through Playstation +. Resogun. Contrast. Don’t Starve. Outlast. Mercenary Kings.

And now Stick it to The Man. A game that, in my humble opinion, is the best offering from the service since Resogun.

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Narratively, it is leaps and bounds over everything that has come so far. Its quirky sense of humor is creative, the overall feel is refreshing and from a gameplay perspective, everything just…works. Even when it shouldn’t.

Stick it to The Man is a love-letter to all of LEC’s quirky post 80’s Adventure Game era. From Zoink Studios, the game puts you in the shoes of Ray, an everyday guy who sprouts a spaghetti shaped pink arm out of his head, also known as Ted. From the word go, the look and humor of the game would totally feel at home in a Tim Schafer/Double Fine effort and contains more than a few nods and winks to the zaniness of a Sam n Max and Monkey Island adventure.

Not to mention, the protagonist’s name is Ray. I was instantly hooked, I love that name.

Ray is basically a paper-man in a paper-world and is regularly required to rip down sheets in order to progress the story, whether it’s to find a particular character or retrieve a specific object. The idea is to collect stickers and use them to solve puzzles, whether you’re trying to place a thought in someone’s head, or use the sticker on a person in order for them to perform a specific action. It’s all very quirky and silly, but actually a smart, dynamic way to introduce puzzle-solving into a pretty platformer. Whether you use glass to reflect beams of light or slap a mouth on a person so they can speak in different ways, the game has an unorthodox way of doing things, and getting into that mindset is all part of the puzzle.

But even the platform element has been adapted just slightly as Ray’s brain-arm enables him to swing between ledges and scale high heights.

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In truth, Stick it to The Man borrows elements from so many games we loved years ago. There’s a bit of Dizzy the Egg in here, plenty of Psychonauts and even a touch of Pitfall, amongst numerous other influences. The game feels like the celebration of everything we ever loved in this industry, but rather than making a hash of it, Zoink have actually brought it all together marvellously.

The PS4 features are even pretty neat. The controller light changes colour when Ray reads people’s minds, blasting out a gorgeous purple hue. The character’s thoughts also come out as audio through the Dualshock 4, which is a real masterstroke. The voices are significant, as they can also offer puzzle hints and further develop the story, so they’re well worth paying attention to.

In fairness, Stick it to The Man is quite short, and is completed in around 5 hours with only 10 chapters in total. But where many games run on and never know when to quit, this is a truly splendid way to spend your time playing. It’s infectious, charming, memorable and rarely ever frustrating. I rarely encountered any bugs, save for one or two, and most platform sections, while they did take a few attempts, were almost always very easy to move past and never dragged on long enough to be a problem.

Areas for Improvement

  • Some in-game crashes that need a quick-fix

Final Analysis

Sony’s independent movement has never shone brighter. This game is a perfect example of why they engineered a platform, driven to support young developers, giving them a chance to shine. Stick it to The Man is energised, creative, entertaining and fun. The odd rare crash does not detract from the quality of this package. It is an absolutely essential experience that everyone must – and has zero reason not to – play.

Technical Competency: 9/10

Graphic/Sound Quality: 10/10

Network Stability: N/A

Overall: 9.5/10

 

About the author

Expansive

Ray is one of the original founders of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,
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