Stick Nightmare

Stick Nightmare is a puzzle platformer where you try to make your way home after having some drinks at a bar.


Developer: Pedro Castro Menezes
Publisher: Pedro Castro Menezes
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: July 15, 2017
Platforms: PC
User Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)

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Basic Information

Stick Nightmare is a puzzle platformer where you try to make your way home after having some drinks at a bar. Pick up and play and go for the high score in this game full of grueling puzzles and deadly traps.

Key Features:

  • Speedrunner Support  – Timed levels with optional collectibles and achievements for special challenges.
  • Grueling difficulty – The death counter goes up into 4 digits for a reason!
  • Customizable Character – Unlock various pieces of clothing you can use to customize your character after completing certain objectives.

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Review

By Taylor Whaley

I’m no stranger to difficult games. In my gaming “career” I’ve played and enjoyed dozens of very difficult games – things like trying to win 1v3s in Age of Empires 2 or going for the “complete X floor without dying” achievements in The Binding of Isaac. Heck, during the later parts of my time reviewing Pyre I was playing out each rite with all of the titan stars activated! All of this is my way of saying that I actually really enjoy challenging games and often even apply self-imposed challenges to the video games I play.

Stick Nightmare describes itself as a puzzle platformer that “may provoke some rage.” I’m not sure exactly if that’s supposed to be more of a selling point or a warning, but after spending some time with the game I can verify the possible accuracy of that description.

Conceptually, the game is rather simple – your character has had a few drinks at a bar and now needs to make his way home. For some reason completely unbeknownst to me, in many cases his way home requires him to pass through a variety of deadly traps such as swinging axes, spiked walls dripping with blood, and giant propellers. It doesn’t seem to have him all that fazed though, so I guess this is a fairly regular occurrence. Still, perhaps he should consider moving to a house that’s a little more habitable.

The base mechanics are pretty much what you’d expect from a basic platformer – you can move around and jump, and also are able to teleport back to checkpoints. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of wall jumping or climbing per se which limits the kinds of puzzles you can design for to an extent. More annoyingly, however, you’re not able to control your character’s descent while in the air – you can jump, sure, but you’re going to be falling back to the ground like a stone. It’s a rather strange design decision that I didn’t particularly appreciate as compared to the kind of platforming I was used to it felt like a big step backwards.

Movement is one of the absolute fundamental mechanics that you need to work out while making a platformer in order for it to be worth playing. Movement should be fluid, responsive, and snappy – the character should react how and when I expect it is going to. Stick Nightmare, sadly, is broken at this very fundamental level. The movement feels clunky and is very unsatisfying to use, and the control scheme is pretty terrible. To make matters worse, the keys aren’t even rebindable. You’re stuck playing for all eternity with the awkward control scheme the developer selected.

Character customization isn’t something that I expected to see in a platforming game of this nature, but it’s there if you want it. You can unlock pieces of clothing and hats and all that stuff by completing various challenges and objectives.

The aesthetic and sound design of the game are nothing to write home about. Neither of them are really contributing a whole lot to the quality of the experience. The aesthetic is fairly basic and not particularly appealing. The music on the other hand is alright, but quickly becomes repetitive and annoying when you get stuck at a jump puzzle somewhere for twenty minutes. The best thing I really have to say about either of these things are that they’re serviceable – they work properly and are better than nothing, but aren’t particularly good.

A few key options are missing from the game’s settings. There are no proper windowed/fullscreen mode or resolution options which means you may struggle to get it working nicely on some setups. Additionally the game supports play with both keyboard/mouse and controller modes, but offers rebindable keys for neither. The default controls are ok but I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t adjust them to something more comfortable.

(Game is bugged in gif, see description below)

Unfortunately, Stick Nightmare is also plagued with bugs. On probably over a dozen occasions throughout my time with the game I encountered various bugs and physics oddities that degraded the experience significantly. I repeatedly encountered a bug while jumping off of a tire (basically a jump pad) that caused me to get stuck jumping, barely able to move left or right – it felt like I was swimming through molasses or something. There were also a variety of other bugs like getting stuck in air gusts and being flung haphazardly by weird hit detection on some objects. Many of these bugs required me to completely restart the level, which were insultingly counted as “ragequits” by the game.

But you know what? I could have forgiven many of these faults. I could have forgiven the lousy aesthetic, the repetitive music, the lack of resolution options, even the clunky control scheme. I could have forgiven all of those things to an extent if only the gameplay were good – but it’s just not. The game is definitely challenging, but not in the way that classics like Super Meat Boy or some of the older Mario games are – it’s a challenging platformer because it handles awkwardly and will repeatedly test your patience with its bugginess and condescending tone.

For masochists and people looking for an incredibly difficult platforming experience who are able to look past its numerous flaws Stick Nightmare could be worth a buy on sale, but for everyone else I’d strongly advise giving this one a skip.

More Information

Release Date: July 15, 2017

Length of playthrough: 4 hours

Links:
Stick Nightmare on Steam
Stick Nightmare on Itch.io

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