Video games are becoming much more about art, and while gameplay will always remain an important aspect, the look of the game can weigh as heavily. That’s why I was excited to find Draw a Stickman: EPIC, because the artstyle and the gameplay seemed equally inventive, both relying on your own drawings to work.
That’s putting a lot of pressure on the player, though. Can my little stickman shoulders bear the weight of all that responsibility? We’ll get drawing and see how I — and the game — hold up.
Ready, Steady, Draw!
Unsurprisingly, you’ll draw a stickman (or sticklady, in my case) when you first load Draw a Stickman: EPIC. This will be your avatar for the game, and while you’re limited first time out in the colors you can use on your stickman, you don’t need to feel pressed to buy the additional colors. Instead, you can unlock them as you play.
You’ll also draw your “damsel in distress,” the princess in another castle that you must rescue. I loved this part of the game, because I drew an orange tabby cat, named it Cat, and now my Draw a Stickman: EPIC adventure is subtitled “The Search for Cat.” I’ve bumped into Cat once or twice, too, before she was spirited away by an evil stickman.
There are plenty of pencils to use in the game, and lots of things to draw, but there’s less room for the artistic flair I showed with my stickgirl’s ginger ringlet’s. Use the fire pencil to set flammable stuff on fire. Draw keys with the key pencil. The cloud pencil has two uses, to create rain and shoot lightning bolts, but that’s as multifunctional as you’ll get. Your fires don’t even have to be fire-shaped, nor is there any reason why your axe can’t be shaped exactly like a hippopotamus. As long as you use the correct pencil, your drawing, whatever it is you draw, with behave accordingly.
Each level is a collection of nifty little puzzles, and it’s your stickman’s job to figure out how to use the pencils provided for the level to make it out safely. You won’t have necessarily have all the pencils for all levels, though, so some puzzles consist entirely of figuring out how many things you have to set on fire. Once you start combining pencils, it becomes both more challenging and more interesting.
Not So Well-Drawn
It’s great that I can draw in the game, making it interactive, but putting in an avatar that I created and building the game around the search for my cat drawing really makes the game something that’s been personalized for me. That was absolutely my favorite part of the game, and it’s too bad it was over in the first five minutes. I wish the developers could have extended the customization of Draw a Stickman: EPIC further, allowing me to draw some of the scenery, too. I could have drawn cracking trees, rocks, and tiki lamps. There’s a fire-breathing monster I would have liked a shot at making even more epic with my colored pencils.
There are games where you can draw neat things of your own invention to solve puzzles. You can draw slingshots or puppies or Cthulhu. Sometimes your idea sticks, and sometimes it backfires and you get eaten by Cthulhu. This is not that sort of game. You can’t draw puppies or Cthulhu. I mean, you can, but they’re not going to act like Cthulhu. They act like fire or keys or rain or whatever kind of pencil you used. While you’re absolutely not tied to a particular shape, you’re always tied the action of your pencil. After a while, I sort of just wished I had a toolbox and could select a key without always having to draw the thing first.
Draw Your Own Adventure
All that said, Draw a Stickman: EPIC really is full of inventive puzzles to solve, funny characters to interact with, and crazy enemies to run away from. I’ll admit that I went into the game with certain expectations, and that clouded my view a bit. I was expecting to be able to really control my environment in new and awesome ways. That’s not really what happened.
What happened was that I ran away from a zombie that would become transfixed by pumpkins, and I was set on fire by a rock that could be stunned by lightning. That’s pretty cool. There’s also that fire-breathing monster guy I mentioned before who inadvertently helps me get a key-controlled robot out of a locked treasure chest. And I’m pretty sure I met the sarlacc from Return of the Jedi. (Don’t worry, the robot took care of him.)
The Writing’s on the Wall
My problem–and it arguably was my problem–was that I wasn’t expecting a point-and-click adventure game. I wasn’t expecting to use the pencils as more or less static tools. I thought I would be creating new stuff. Instead, I picked up tools as I moved through the game, and some of them were applicable in certain areas while others aren’t. Draw a Stickman: EPIC turned out to be an adventure game with a neat graphics style and a peculiar toolbox.
I’m a big fan of adventure games, and this sure is a fun one. Draw a Stickman: EPIC just happens to resemble, in both style and mechanics, the sorts of games where you can draw your own puppies or Cthulhu. But even without a Cthulhu puppy, it’s still a great game. I wish I had been able to customize more than just myself and my damsel, though, and all the tools are there to do it. Maybe I couldn’t draw my own zombies or fire-breathing rocks, but that doesn’t change how great the gameplay is, and Draw a Stickman: EPIC probably did just fine on those zombies without me.