Posted: June 14, 2014
There are games created to simply make money, there are games created simply to go viral on Youtube. There are also games that are created, with the most innocent of intentions, to just be a game. Draw a Stickman EPIC is certainly the latter, and for that I give them credit as it’s becoming harder and harder to find a game you can just buy once and play all the way through. Unfortunately, this is where the positive points about the game end.
The game will start you off drawing a rudimentary stickman which you will then guide around a series of levels in a top-down view, looking for the exit to unlock the next one. The levels can branch in different directions, meaning that you could end up unlocking a different level depending on which exit you took during your time playing the last one. Each level has various environmental puzzles that can be solved by drawing a specific object to use such as drawing an axe will let you chop down trees.
The premise seems solid, but the final product will put you to sleep. Now that you’re vaguely familiar with the gameplay, let’s discuss what’s wrong with it. For starters, the drawing mechanic is kiddy-pool shallow. There are roughly 5 different things you can draw, in addition to the axe you can also draw fires, rain clouds, thunder clouds and keys. If you thought it would be a game like Okami where you draw bridges to progress, or Scribblenauts huge selection of drawings, you’re out of luck.
Drawing keys is completely redundant, it’s not a puzzle to put a key in a lock, it just wastes time to keep having to draw them and they simply aren’t necessary. Additionally, each thing you can draw has its own pencil. The game isn’t smart enough to know what you’re actually drawing, so it determines what object you’ve drawn based on the pencil you’ve chosen which brings up the question, why do you have to draw the object at all? You can draw anything from a straight line, to a Salvador Dali replica but if you did it with the “axe” pencil, it will only ever see it as an axe.
The next thing wrong with the gameplay is how monotonous it gets. One stage in particular stood out with this, where you had to use a key operated robot to plough through a wall. No clues were given on this, but there were a huge number of chests, barrels and boxes around, and yes you had to just keep breaking them all open one at a time until you found the right one (by drawing an axe, which breaks after 3 swings and needs to be drawn again). Once found, along with finding the control box in a similar way, you needed to use keys to turn the robot in 90 degree increments until it was facing the right direction (keys, again, get 3 uses before you need to draw a new one). Additionally, you needed keys to operate the control box to make the robot move forward, then turn it yet again after it moves to re-align it with the target. Dull as a butter knife, because it’s obvious what you have to do, it just takes so long to do it because of having to redraw all your tools, but then why couldn’t you have just made it so the robot can be turned around without keys at all?
This is the main issue the game has, in fact. Everything is so straightforward, but it’s made difficult and more time-consuming from having to stop every couple of steps to “draw” something. You can’t move while drawing, so it’s essentially little more than padding so that the game will last longer than 30 minutes.
Poor level design ensures that tedium is never far away, with most puzzles boiling down to destroying everything you can, looking for clues in the environment (such as using a lightning cloud over a gravestone with a lightning symbol on it) then clicking on any interactive objects until you find the exit. The best way to describe the gameplay is like a point-and-click adventure with no plot… or colour.
The graphics are abysmal and I don’t buy the “it’s the style” argument. If you set out to design a game that looks like this from the start, then you probably should have changed the concept before you began working on it. Justifying bad art does not make it any less bad.
Each level is a static, flat image completely devoid of colour or artistic talent. Everything that moves does so with animation tweening of a single frame in the same way bad Flash animations do. This would be excusable if any of these actually looked like some effort had been put into drawing them, but no. The style dictates that everything has to look like it was drawn by a 5-year old, but it’s not even doing that right, it looks like a game drawn by a grown man to LOOK like the drawings of a 5-year old.
Draw a Stickman EPIC barely qualifies as a game, being the digital equivalent of those baby toys with shapes that fit into specific holes. And just like those toys, I cannot possibly recommend this to anyone over the age of 3 due to choking hazards.
~Doesn’t crash very often
~Grotesque graphics and animation
~Painfully repetitive gameplay
~No replay value
~More time spent in the pencil UI than solving puzzles
~Drawing mechanics have the depth of a pancake