Stick it to the Man! the psychic puzzle-adventure game from Zoink! Games and Ripstone made its way to Xbox One recently, a story about Ray a hard-hat tester who has an accident at work and gets a giant spaghetti hand coming out of his brain that no-one else can see and gives him the ability to read minds. Using this ability Ray has to complete puzzles by reading minds and giving people what they want in the way of stickers found from other people or places to progress. Whilst Ray is coming to terms with his new-found powers he is being chased by “The Man” and his agents to get the hand back so he can complete his dastardly plan.
What stood out to me personally in the pre-release materials and when I started playing the game was the art style and graphics, the paper story boards style and stickers, I thought was really nice and something that set it apart from other games. Lots more games these days have interesting or different art styles if not necessarily unique but I thought this was quite interesting and with the consistent look throughout I thought it looked great.
As I mentioned above you need to read people’s minds, hear what they’re not saying and fulfil a need (e.g. love) or give them a physical item (e.g. can opener…!) and this leads to new stickers popping up which can help other people who are in need, the story is based around these puzzles as well as some platforming. The spaghetti hand coming out of Ray’s brain also gives him the ability to grab on to pins and get to places he wouldn’t otherwise be able to making traversal around the levels easier and there are sections containing agents where you need to find a way past them using different stickers, mind-reading and the hand to jump quickly to new places which is also fun and can be quite fast paced if the plan is to just outrun them.
There are 10 chapters in the game which are of reasonable length (depending on whether you want to do literally everything or not) and the achievements aren’t related to story progress so its possible to play the game and not get many achievements – thank god for chapter select(!), but are a good example of a developer trying to get the player to do more in the game and get more out of it to fully experience everything that’s been put into it which I think it’s a nice way of doing it.
Playing through the game itself I found to be fun and quite charming overall, reading people’s minds can be quite funny and thought the general gameplay of getting stickers to be enjoyable and rewarding. You can press X to see an overview of the level and all the places where there are interactions to help complete the level (shown in the screenshot below) which prevents it from getting frustrating and its rewarding seeing all these different question marks disappear as you go through the level. I also enjoyed the platforming, finding a way to evade agents is fun and you can try to just run through, or read their minds and manipulate them that way especially when more appear later in the game.
From a technical standpoint the game was pretty flawless, it ran really well with no hiccups except for one strange bug when pausing the game and changing scenes where the screen would just go black and not let me do anything, with the sound still going in the background. Fortunately there are plenty of checkpoints but there was one section where it kept sending me back to the start of the chapter which was a little frustrating, it wasn’t a regular occurrence though and might be something they are preparing a patch for.
I thought the story was quite fun and lighthearted as you’d expect and overall I enjoyed Stick it to The Man! There are lots of games out there that are a bit different – compared to the sorts of games I would usually play and I think it’s a fun game to relax with and enjoy, especially if you enjoy puzzle games.
If you haven’t experienced it on other platforms and you enjoy quirky puzzle games I think there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had, its a lot of fun with good writing and as previously mentioned I liked the graphical style, they’re not anything mind-blowing but Zoink are clearly a talented developer who knew exactly what they wanted to do with Stick it to the Man! and executed it very well. Making something fun and engaging but enjoyable is always a good thing and the game is priced appropriately as well if that will sway anyone that didn’t get the chance to check it out on PS4 via PS+ or other platforms.
Thanks to Michelle at Ripstone for providing me with a review code
Formats: Xbox One (played), Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PSVita, WiiU, Steam
Developer: Zoink! Games
Publisher: Ripstone Games