Your heart is a dog, and the only way to get your blood pumping again is to lead it back to your robotic chest by using the otherworldly hand sticking out of your head to carry a bone. Sound insane? Oh, rest assured, it is, but Stick It to the Man is so much more than random insanity— it's also a delightful point-and-click-style adventure game draped in the wrappings of a platformer.
In Stick It to the Man you play as hardhat tester Ray, a man accustomed to a life of having things fall on his head. One day, after a long shift of concussions, a mysterious canister smacks him on the noggin, and he awakens with a supernatural hand wafting out of his forehead. From there, Ray's life spirals out of control, with mysterious G-Men hunting him, shiny-toothed mafia bosses barring his path and neurotic robots pouring their angst his way. To help Ray figure out what the hey is going on you'll make use of your spaghetti arm’s supernatural powers, using it to swing you around like a slow-paced Spider-Man or carry items from point A to point B to open door C for NPC D.
While you'll spend a bit of time flitting around, gathering items like a traditional point-and-click, you'll also spend just as much time using your newfound telepathy to gather clues by hearing the thoughts of people, beasts and robots around you, and herein we find Stick It to the Man's greatest strength— its writing. Stick It to the Man overflows with memorable characters, each with their own bizarre (often hilarious) idiosyncrasies. You'll want to keep playing not just to progress the story, but to find out what weird new characters lie around the corner. The development team over at Zoink is pretty up-front about their love and respect for video game artists Tim Schafer/Double Fine Productions' previous works, and Stick It to the Man would fit right at home alongside such fine titles as Psychonauts, Costume Quest and Broken Age.
Rather than provide a continuous, unbroken narrative, Stick It to the Man's story is comprised of numerous chapters, some of which have you progressing through previously unexplored areas by granting you new abilities a la Metroidvania. It is, however, a brief tale, clocking in at approximately five hours, but at its low price point of fifteen dollars, this seems like a more than reasonable length.
Stick It to the Man's visuals are... interesting, to say the least. There's a two-dimensional aesthetic present in most game elements, with 2D backgrounds, characters who speak by flapping the tops of their heads up and down, and respawn points that revive you by printing out Ray on a new roll of paper. The voice acting and music all strike a nice balance between quirkiness and quality, keeping things lively even when a bit of occasional tedium sets in when fetching the umpteenth item in a row.
Few game companies have the boldness to go for the sort of offbeat blend of point-and-click puzzles, mild platforming, and eccentric style as the team at Zoink does, but their boldness has paid off in droves and given the gaming world a wonderfully unique new title to enjoy. If you want fast-paced action or mind-bending puzzles, Stick It to the Man's half-and-half approach may fail to satisfy, but for anyone who enjoys a bit of slow-paced gaming dripping with character, this is one man you'll be more than happy to stick it to.
This review is based on a purchased download of Stick It to the Man for Wii U.