Stick It To The Stickman Offers More Than I Expected

Surprisingly Delightful

Stickman

There’s a particular brand of cheap action platformers with low-end graphics and loose controls that have become popular in recent years that I’ve never really understood. These games usually don’t take themselves too seriously and are mainly meant to inspire goofy hijinks, but can you not have goofy hijinks with tight controls? When I die in a game, I prefer that it be because I made a mistake, not because the game didn’t do what I wanted. I believe the point of these games is to lower the barrier of entry and even the odds between players of differing skills, but there has to be a better way to handle that.

These games aren’t new, and having tried a few, I went into Stick It To The Stickman without a lot of expectations of quality. However, I was quickly won over by its juvenile charm, interesting combat options, and roguelite mechanics. It also helps that compared to many similar games, the controls aren’t completely unmanageable.

Stickman

In a future corporate dystopia, which has a lot in common with our current corporate dystopia, your stickman is hired for a new job thanks to a recommendation from a friend. You’re then given that friend’s job and told that firing them is up to you. Firing meaning kicking their ass or even killing them. The humor in the setup here is quite well executed despite being basic. The game takes pains to keep things broad, not describing anything about the job or employer. You’re hired to do the thing. This allows all manor of players to place themselves in their stickman’s shoes and keeps it from being bogged down by people who might say, hey, that industry isn’t so bad! As political commentary, it might be a bit toothless, but it is funny. So is the juvenile humor that involves a lot of farting and groin punching, which feels like it should be too simple but mostly works.

Your stickman seemingly can’t handle their job for long and decides to kick ass all the way to the boss who hangs out at the top of a giant tower. As you fight your way up floor by floor, using elevators and a strange amount of ladders for a corporate environment, dozens of corporate drones will get in your way, growing increasingly more difficult and varied in their attack patterns as you get further along. The only options are to kick their asses, or kick them right out a window which is a nice touch and can, with good timing, get a tough enemy out of the way quickly.

Stickman

Combat follows an interesting pattern as you have a variety of attacks, all of which are executed with a single button. Your moves are set up in order, with each attack moving you one step further down that order. It allows for planning if you want it, though in my time with the game, just throwing myself at foes was most of my strategy.

As you take down enemies, you’ll earn energy that allows you to level up when you reach set doors on various floors. These upgrades allow you to upgrade your moves, making them more powerful and giving you whole new options. You can also, at times, use upgrades for passive perks or even to just heal up when needed. Some of the moves I got, suck as a rising uppercut and the ability to hover, were very cool, and I can see how upgrading the right moves could potentially allow you to string combos together in your order of attacks.

Stickman

Controlling your stickman feels pretty alright. He isn’t super slippery, and generally, I found combining attacks together to feel great. If anything, I could have used just a little more momentum behind his movement. I often found myself coming up a little short of where I expected to when running at foes at trying to attack, which could lead to a few attacks swinging at the air before I adjusted. There’s time to fix this, though, and I hope the developers give an attack just a bit more forward momentum to avoid moments like this. It would go a long way toward making the game feel just right.

I had a lot more fun than I expected to with Stick It To the Stickman. It looks good, plays pretty well, has some interesting ideas when it comes to combat, and is funny enough to make me want to see more of it when the team at Free Lives decide it’s ready.

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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