When Devolver Digital publishes something, it's never clear what it's going to be. Still, no topic is off limits and the rising tide of frustration with corporate life has caught their attention. Job rage is alive and well as shown in internet quitting stories and cases where people just stop showing up with nothing said. You can feel this rage in the upcoming title Stick It To The Stickman by Free Lives. Free Lives has made several notable games that use very loose physics to make for very comical and chaotic experiences. With this new one, players will be fighting their way to the top of different businesses across the corporate city using grit, determination, and whatever strange moves and items with which they choose to outfit their disgruntled employees.
Working for a huge company is enough to stress anyone out. This can lead to explosive quitting or an intense desire to punch your boss in the face. The latter is the path taken by the employees in Stick It To The Stickman. You'll play as one of several different types of employees, each starting with their own attack loadouts and passive abilities, who want nothing more than to reach the top floor and kick their boss off of it. As they do, they'll meet lots of resistance from those dedicated to the job. Luckily, there's a lot to play around with considering how often you can add in new attacks or upgrade existing ones to ensure you get an appointment and make sure the boss never forgets meeting you.
Stick It To The Stickman by flailing wildly and throwing desk stuff
When playing a new game, you're hoping that the positives and fun parts will jump right out at you. That's definitely how it feels sitting down to get a taste of Stick It To The Stickman. This is a realistic fighting game in that it's sloppy and uncoordinated, like how the average person might fight. This makes sense because you're not a trained combatant, you're an angry office worker. There's a pool of moves that range from references to action movies to literally throwing cups of coffee at people which captures the angry-employee sentiment while also being very comedic. Each landed hit brings with it a weighty impact as your opponents ragdoll. Not quite what you'd expect from stick figures but it keeps the experience grounded. They stumble and fall over each other, knock things down, and swing wildly just like you need to do.
Then there's how it incorporates customization with roguelike mechanics revolving around gathering moves for your own personal combo since every time you attack, you switch to the next move in the sequence. Getting to explore the first business, a large corporate office, you get to experience what kind of brawling you'll be doing. Instead of weapons, your brawler has a set of attacks that they cycle through. Every time you press the attack button, it switches to the next attack in the sequence. They range between punches, kicks, and projectiles. All of them can be upgraded when you clear floors. There's no indicator of how many floors you've climbed, but you're almost always rewarded with a golden door opening to grant you an upgrade. Upgrades can include a new attack, an upgrade to an existing attack, or a passive ability. You can add in more attacks until you get to the point where you're mashing the attack button and launching strikes in every which way.
You're at the mercy of roguelike RNG in Stick It To The Stickman
Sometimes a game will do something that feels like a punishment which takes away from the experience. As Stick It To The Stickman continues with development, there are parts of it that could use a second look. The most noticeable is the sense of balance. Some of the character loadouts contain attacks that are inherently better, such as being able to throw knives allowing you to deal damage from afar while staying safe. If you're limited to a melee attacker, you're going to have a much harder time as enemies charge you in much larger groups. Then there are enemies who are able to power through many attacks while also having more reach, not to mention those who have projectile weapons with precision aiming. This is the gamble of roguelike RNG: You can know exactly what kind of enemies are coming but if you aren't lucky enough to build up a varied enough arsenal, you'll just have to accept your punishment. Thankfully, it's a fast-paced game so the top always does feel in reach but these elements can make each try that much more frustrating.
Stick It To The Stickman is an upcoming 3D brawling roguelike about a stickman worker fighting against numerous corporate entities with fists, feet, and things to throw. It's got a colorful and silly flair with some solid beat 'em up gameplay and interesting loadout system. There are still some balancing issues to work out between the fighters and the enemies, but there's time to get this all sorted. Until then, maybe get ahold of a stress ball to tide you over at the office while waiting for this to come out.
TechRaptor previewed Stick It To The Stickman on Steam with a copy provided by those behind the game's release. It will be launching for PC on a currently unannounced date.