Being greeted by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s Just Dropped In at the main menu is just the first in a series of pleasant surprises that make up the entirety of Stick it to The Man. Following the adventures of hard-hat tester Ray, whose entire world is made of paper, cardboard and stickers, you’ll experience an accident that leaves Ray with the odd ability to read minds and relocate stickers among the environment and other characters. As with most seemingly innocent beginnings, there is a deeper conspiracy here that will follow Ray through ten eccentric and zany chapters.
The most readily apparent thing about Stick it to The Man is the hilarious and intelligent writing that is personified with some superb voice acting. Saying that Stick it to The Man is reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon wouldn’t be too far off base, as the writing in the game was done by Ryan North, who authored the Adventure Time comic. The game hides a ton of dialogue over the course of the ten chapters, with Ray having the ability to read the mind of every person (and robot, animal, and even a few skeletons) along the way. What this means however, is that I spent a lot of time just listening to the thoughts of dysfunctional characters as opposed to playing the game.
While not necessarily a bad thing, the balance between gameplay and dialogue seems skewed heavily towards what people have to say (and think). There is a fast forward option present for the speeding through characters thoughts, complete with chipmunk style voices, which I ended up using fairly liberally the further that I progressed. I cringed every time that I ‘chipmunk’ed any of the quality voice acting, but some characters speak so slowly or just seem to ramble on, and I really wanted to get back to playing the game.
Gameplay in Stick it to The Man consists of simple 2D platforming while using the “pink spaghetti” that is coming out of Ray’s head to read thoughts and relocate stickers that advance the plot. For example, reading the mind of a bar patron will get him to think about a gear, which Ray can pull from his thoughts and place on a bridge to continue in the level. This style of gameplay masks what is essentially a point-and-click puzzle adventure. The platforming elements have Ray grabbing push pins in the environment to quickly reach locations or move back and forth between 2D layers while attempting to escape enemies that are hunting him down, though these small sections are very brief and easy to get past for the most part. Even if you are caught during these parts, checkpoints are very generous and there are no inherent negative effects from dying.
The whole game can be completed in a matter of about five hours depending on how much mind reading you do outside of main story progression and if you are fast forwarding the dialogue. As a matter of example, I got the trophy for reading all characters thoughts in the game during my first playthrough without any kind of guide and I wouldn’t say that it took me longer than 6 hours total. Unfortunately having read all characters thoughts pretty much eliminates any chances of replayability that Stick it to The Man may have had, a there are no other collectibles, abilities, etc. that warrant a second playthrough.
Chapter select does allow you to get back to your favorite lines of dialogue in the game fairly quickly though, and I couldn’t wait to go back and listen to the seagull that lamented his screeching vocal cords and then expressed excitement at his poop aiming abilities. Lines like these kept my wife and I laughing out loud constantly as I played and pretty well made up for the lack of any challenge in the game. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry about headshots and combos in favor of just relaxing and enjoying the game that you are playing.
Overall Stick it to The Man is very solidly put together, between the excellent papercraft visuals, awesome voice acting, and hilarious writing. The only noticeable glitch that I encountered left a satellite dish sticker that I was holding just before the final cutscene, floating over Ray’s head for the remainder of that last cinematic, which was actually pretty funny, though clearly was not intended to be there.
Stick it to The Man is an interactive Saturday morning cartoon, and for the price of entry, is actually a pretty fun experience. While some may be turned off by the imbalance between gameplay and dialogue, and the straightforward nature of some of the chapters, I was able to find a simple kind of enjoyment while digging into the conspiracy that hounded Ray and the dysfunction of the large cast that surrounded him. My largest disappointment came in how quickly my adventure came to a close, but given the solid overall experience, I am very interested to see where developer Zoink! goes from here.
PS3 review code provided by publisher. Coming for Vita in December with cross-buy enabled.