You know you have a great game on your hands when you start a new game immediately after the end credits have rolled. That’s exactly what happened after experiencing the weirdness and strangeness of Stick it To The Man, the latest from Swedish developer Zoink! Games. The weird and the strange is what makes Stick it To The Man such a joy to play. It’s also genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious due to a huge cast of quirky characters, off-beat scenarios and memorable dialogue. Comparing Stick it To The Man to other adventure games is warranted here, and even though it doesn’t necessarily push the genre into new territory, it still employs the key ingredients extremely well.
It all starts with our hero, Ray, who is hit on the head by a falling mysterious metal object on his way home from work. One messed up dream later, he awakes in the hospital with one major difference: a large, pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his head. It’s Ray’s new protruding limb that allows him to interact with the paper world around him in new ways. Not only does it make traversing levels easier, it has the unique ability to read people’s minds. It isn’t long before he catches the attention of the aptly named The Man, a shadowy cigarette addict, who’s out to get Ray.
The story in Stick it to The Man is absolutely bonkers, but in a good way — and it adds to the game’s already zany and charming personality. One moment you’ll be escaping a mental asylum by reviving a dead whale’s carcass (weird, right?), to finding long-lost memories belonging to a giant brain on a space ship (what?), to the deep dark depths of Ray’s own mind (makes sense). Sure, the story does jump around a bit, but the script is continually funny and the sharp game design kept us engaged to the very end.
"It’s also genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious due to a huge cast of quirky characters, off-beat scenarios and memorable dialogue."
Proceeding through each stage will require reading the minds of other people which will often result in stickers appearing over their heads. Players can pluck these stickers from their minds and then figure out where to place them. For instance, Ray can give the tears of a heartbroken man to a zombie chef, who will whip up a cooked human arm; that arm can be used to lure out a pet crocodile with sharp teeth; giving the teeth to an angry dog will rescue a man late for his disco contest, and so on. Many of the areas are quite large and multileveled so finding out where to slap a sticker can sometimes involve a lot of running back and forth. Once you’ve acquired every sticker and triggered all of the events, only then can Ray “escape” the area.
Except for a few minor frustrations with a few of The Man’s goons, Stick it To The Man isn’t particularly challenging, so finding the solution shouldn't take you more than a few minutes. Part of the fun of Stick it to The Man is watching all of the bizarre situations unfold. Even when it was obvious where a sticker should go, the ensuing cutscene would reveal something entirely unexpected and, in more cases than not, left us in stitches. We do wish there was a bit more complexity in the puzzles though. The gameplay — while still fun — never elevates beyond reading brains, grabbing stickers and slapping them down. There are moments in which you’ll need to be creative as to not get noticed by certain enemies, but your tactics still involve using stickers as distractions. It could get a tad bit repetitive for some, but with a game as funny as this, you won’t mind one bit.
"It could get a tad bit repetitive for some, but with a game as funny as this, you won’t mind one bit."
The whole adventure is somewhere between five and six hours long. And while we do wish Zoink! Games could have thrown a few extra levels in there, there's a high possibility it would have ruined what is already an expertly-paced little adventure. As mentioned earlier, we immediately began a second play simply because of how enjoyable Ray’s adventure was. We understand though, that many may not feel the same way, so it’s important to note that — besides earning achievements — there isn’t any real incentive to replay the game after solving every puzzle and read every mind.
Rounding out all of the sticker hunting is a sublime soundtrack that feels right at home with the imaginative and distinct art style. We found ourselves humming the jazz-infused melodies even when we weren’t playing the game. More to the point, Stick it to The Man absolutely excels in convincing you that this is as close as you’re going to get to playing and interacting with a cartoon. Everything about Stick it to The Man feels polished and shows a developer confident in themselves to tackle a genre that sadly gets overlooked. The excellent writing — which we should state, never became vulgar — and smart presentation is just icing on the cake.
Stick it To The Man is a total blast to play. The puzzles may not be all that challenging, but the beautiful visuals, catchy soundtrack, and wonderful humour make it stick out above other adventure games. The campaign tells a silly but charming story with many unpredictable twists and turns. And despite it’s short run time, Stick it To The Man is a truly fun and memorable experience that will have you glued to the screen.