Optical Inquisitor, a retro stick figure revenge sniper game, is one of the strangest mobile titles I've played in quite a while. The thing is, even with all of those descriptors, the rundown of this game could be even more hyphenated than it already is. That's because Optical Inquisitor tries to pack in every kind of movie and video game element you can think of. Ultimately, this ambition both helps and hurts the overall appeal.

I suppose the best way to start with this would be to look at some of the other things going on here. Taking a page from the GTA Vice City playbook, the game is also hyper violent and obsessed with the '80s. If you think that a game composed mostly of stick figures would have a hard time earning a 17+ rating, think again. Optical Inquisitor manages to do it pretty easily -- all it takes is a couple of blood-spattered head-shots.

But it does not stop there. In addition to sniping, there's plenty of opportunities to revenge kill your enemies in all manner of grisly ways, such as dragging bodies from the back of a car and yanking off limbs that are tied to trees. But since everything here has to do with stick figures, there remains a playful and silly tone that threads through the story and gameplay. In the sniping action, it starts out with regular sharp shooting, but gradually evolves into increasingly goofy, Rube Goldbergian methods for taking people out.

Optical Inquisitor follows a stick-man named Tommy Rissken, who is recently out of jail and hell bent on getting revenge against the former associates who betrayed him. Developer Vlad Ren clearly shows how enamored he is with the '80s by giving his main character an eye patch and a last name that bears a striking resemblance to a different one-eyed anti-hero.

The story more or less starts when Rissken gets out of jail after eight years and wastes no time in getting his assassinatin' mojo flowing. Mixed in with all of this is a long-lost daughter that he wants to reconnect with. You can also gamble to earn money that you can use to customize your weapons. There's underground racing as well that you can have fun with and use to line your stickman pockets.

Optical Inquisitor is all over the place. The extremism of it reminds me of that old arcade game NARC, but with tons of goofy cinematic flair. It also has the appeal of the classic Internet kung-fu videos of Xiao Xiao. Speaking of... if you haven't seen any of these, do yourself a favor and watch one of them right now (this is totally the best one).

The Xiao Xiao videos demonstrate, in addition to the countless other iOS stick man titles of varying quality and subject matter, that there's nothing you can't do when using that type of character as a backbone for a game. It's because of this easily affordable variety and flexibility, that Optical Inquisitor feels all over the place.

It's also probably why Crescent Moon Games was able to release it in the first place, since apparently there's nothing you can't get away with when stick-men are involved. Optical Inquisitor is a maddeningly unfocused, haphazard ride that will alternately bore and impress you outright by turning on a dime and dropping in a hilarious bit of mayhem. Usually that mayhem comes in the form of some out-of-left-field way to kill someone. But it can also be a stylized scene or angle or cheesy line of dialogue.

Is Optical Inquisitor a great game? I'd be hard pressed to label it as such. But it's certainly memorable. And for only a dollar, I would say it is definitely worth a look. If for no other reason than to see the crazy mishmash of inappropriate hilarity that is collected here.

 

App Store Link: Optical Inquisitor for iPhone & iPad | By Vlad Ren | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.0 | 55.4 MB | Rating 17+

7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating