Stick It To The Man! review – screwing officials, one gag at a time
Finally, an adventure-platformer that summons the giddy pleasure of being a kid, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV at 6 AM, drinking in the cartoons before your parents wake up and put you back in the naughty cupboard.
Stick It To The Man! PSN review
As likeably neurotic hero Ray (a man whose neurosis you explore in minute detail at one point via a trek through his own brain), you bound about exploring SITTM’s 2.5D, Ren and Stimpy-esque world with an enormous pink arm protruding from your head that no-one else can see.
It is, as if I need mention, a magic appendage that grants Ray the ability to eavesdrop on other people’s thoughts. These manifest themselves in the physical world as stickers, which you can then slap about the place, using said phantom limb to solve puzzles. Now there’s a videogame pitch.
Here’s an example: you find yourself in an asylum (hardly an unexpected turn of events for a man with a magenta, head-mounted limb), guarded by a knuckle dragging goon outside your cell. Your neighbour is a nice lady who believes herself to be a spider. By reading her mind you discover she sees men as flies – and like any red-blooded depersonalised schizophrenic, she’s on the hunt for one.
After Ray has a nosey through her troubling inner monologue, her thought bubble turns into a fly-head sticker, which you then stick on the guard. Spider-lady dutifully harvests her prey, leaving you free to escape. There’s a convoluted, early ‘90s LucasArts adventure logic to all SITTM’s puzzles (though thankfully they’re delivered with a clarity that means you never have to resort to spamming ‘use’ on every available surface or trying to combine every object in the world with each other), and they have an endearing way of improving the lives of all the good guys you encounter, and ensuring the baddies get their dues.
But even better than the gameplay – which is admittedly dulled very slightly by fiddly control of Ray’s arm – is the writing. Penned by Ryan North (Adventure Time co-scribe), the humour here is (and I say this without hyperbole) pitch-perfect. Better, it’s brought to life by a cast of over 100 characters, voice-acted with spirit and impeccable timing. Of all the games I’ve played this year, only the farce that is Ride To Hell: Retribution came close to making me laugh as much, and those giggles were quickly extinguished once Eutechnyx’s portrayal of women made itself clear.
It’s such a rare treat to find yourself blown away by a game you had no expectations of. I don’t want to ruin that feeling for you, so forget everything you just read after hitting the ‘buy’ button on the store, so you can enjoy the through-the-looking-glass wonderment of SITTM afresh. I can think of only one reason you wouldn’t go and play this, and it’s that you hate fun.