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Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: 'Stick It to the Man' - The Strangest Game I've Ever Played

Stick It to the Man is easily the strangest game I've ever played. It's not simply that the characters themselves are strange, or that the story is reminiscent of 90's Nickelodeon cartoons, mind you. It's not even the fact that you spend the entire game with a giant pink arm sticking out of your head through which you read people's minds.

It's not even the art style, complete with characters whose top and bottom jaws aren't connected.

What makes Stick It to the Man so strange are the conversations you'll overhear and the puzzles you'll solve. I can't count the amount of 'wtf' moments I had.

Stick It the Man is strange. Very strange. Yet I keep coming back for more.

You play as Ray Doewood, a hardhat tester who on his way home after work one day gets hit in the head by an object that fell out of the sky. Upon waking up he notices that he now has a giant pink arm sticking out of his head, is a suspect for murder, and is being chased by a strange government foundation ran by a shadowy figure known as 'The Man'.

Oh, there's also a little squid-like blue alien named Ted who not only helps you on your adventures, but just so happens to live in your brain.

Stick It to the Man is a puzzle platformer at heart. You'll hop up and down ledges, across gaps, and around enemies. With the help of your pink, glowing, spaghetti arm you can also propel yourself onto out-of-reach ledges (think Earthworm Jim). You also use this arm to peel back the outer layer of a building, revealing new character's and objectives.

Where the arm truly comes into play however is in the act of reading minds and collecting stickers to help reach objectives. I mentioned earlier that the characters found within are strange. Let me give you a brief example of a scenario in one of the opening chapters:

In order to get off an island you need to find a floating vessel of sorts. While most people may think a boat would suffice, Stick It to the Man thinks otherwise. At one point you meet an unnamed fellow who brags about being the first to kill the white whale (clearly Ishmael). He has unfortunately lost the whale carcass and wishes to find it.

Once you do, it's nowhere near over. You quickly find that the carcass is deflated and that if you're going to float across the water you'll need to pump it up and bring it back to life. To make a long story short you find a character with a paper bag he uses to calm himself down while hyperventilating. Ray takes the bag and stuffs it into the blowhole of the white whale carcass. Relieved that his paper bag is safe, the aforementioned character blows into the bag, blowing the whale up in the process.

The problem now is that there's no power to bring the whale back to life. By placing a dead battery you steal from a zombie ambulance into the mind of a convict in the electric chair (who oddly loves being electrocuted) you charge the battery and can now power up the whale.

Ishmael immediately gets to work and brings the white whale back to life. Just when you think things couldn't get more odd, rather than simply float across the water in your now inflated, Frankenwhale, Ishmael stabs it with his harpoon and like a deflating balloon you soar into the next chapter.

Weird enough for you? If not, there are many more chapters full of all sorts of strange just waiting to be uncovered.

Stick It to the Man is a very unique game in a time when sequels are the industry norm. Aside from the obvious control issues found within any platformer, Stick It to the Man is an incredible story-driven adventure. It's absolutely bleeding with personality and passion, and reminds me of the classic cartoons like Rocko's Modern Life and Aahh! Real Monsters.

I can't recommend Stick It to the Man enough. Just make sure you aren't playing on acid. You might find yourself with a pink spaghetti arm growing of your head.

A digital download code was given to us by the publishers. Story mode was completed.

Scores are out of 100 and are meant to be taken very seriously.

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