Stick It to the Man! is an adventure game in the style of old Lucasarts titles. The art style is what you would have if the people in Psychonauts were made out of paper and missing their jaw bones. You are a young man named Ray who works as a hard hat tester who ironically gets hit in the head by a package that falls from the sky. It turns out it held this little alien creature who nests inside his head, giving him the power of what everyone in the game calls a spaghetti arm. With this odd power, he can read people’s minds and borrow their thoughts in the form of stickers fulfill other people’s wishes.
This mechanic gives Stick It to the Man! a clearer path to follow than the old-school point-and-clicks, especially after you help the first NPC in a chapter; this creates a chain reaction of good fortune that a town this dark could probably use a lot more often.
How dark, you ask?
Shhh, you asked.
Early in the game, you come across a magician talking to a medium, attempting to contact his dead wife. The catch? She died when her husband cut off her legs during a magic trick. For his dead wife to find peace and stop haunting the town, you must find her a new set of legs. Once you find these–because yes, you find a spare set of legs lying around town–you can borrow the medium’s turban, taking her power with it. Then you give this to a therapist whose patient is grieving the death of his judgmental father. This lets the son talk to his dad to make peace. When he instead continues to criticize his kid, you can literally paste a smile sticker on the father’s face, giving the father-son duo both the illusion of reconciliation.
The tasks you complete weave a theme throughout the game. So often your invisible interference as a third-party works one of two ways. Either you are a benefit, exposing lies that were used as ammunition (i.e. a set of triplets who tricked one brother into thinking he was the runt instead of the tallest of the three), or you allow the characters to follow desires that are sure to end in disaster (i.e. reuniting a man with his shallow girlfriend who left at a moment’s notice for an old man with shiny dentures). This gives credibility to both of the clichés–the truth will set you free, and ignorance is bliss.
As with any adventure game, you want to make sure you listen to what everyone says and what they want, or you will get lost. Though the game is fairly easy, the couple of times I got stuck, I had forgotten about a person who was an obvious fit for the sticker, i.e. Santa asking for a chimney. This is where it is helpful to have an inventory if you can use it to your advantage. Though you can only hold one sticker in your hand at a time, you are given infinite pockets that you access with the scroll wheel on your mouse. This, for your average gamer, makes it easy to keep track of what you have, but if you are me, you keep forgetting what you have since it’s not always on the screen. I would never want that since it would clutter the UI and hinder the experience, so my only advice? Don’t be me.
While playing through this game, I kept taking screenshots when I saw something I thought was funny, and now I have too many to show you. I don’t want to spoil the game here, but I’ll post a gallery of them after this review so you can see my favorites. I played this game in one five-hour sitting (and that was with getting confused a couple of times) and am itching to go through it again for laughs, so I think even spoiling some of the jokes and story points won’t ruin the entire experience.
Now the length is perfect for what the game offers. Each chapter introduces a slightly different mechanic and centers around it. One will solely consist of people-pleasing, and the next will only have you avoiding and tricking guards. The only complaint I can think of is that it’s hard to guess how long a section is from the start. You barely play the game for the first two chapters since the first is exposition and the second is a tutorial level. Later in the game, you might spend forty-five minutes on one chapter and then speed through the next in ten minutes or less.
Overall, I adored this game. I had wanted to play it for a while, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. Now to see what bite-sized game I can power through next.