May 18, 2015
At one point in the Internet’s short history, stick figures ruled the World Wide Web. Animated videos showed stick figures performing many activities, most of which involved brutal violence. While stick figures aren’t so popular anymore across the Internet, they have experienced a revival of sorts on mobile games. From playing golf to running endlessly, stick figures seem to be leading active lives.
Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter brings takes stick figures back to their violent Internet roots. A squad of sticks must snipe and shoot their way through secret agent-style missions that take place in the U.S. and Spain. Gameplay is bland, but the game manages to capture the humorous spirit of the early Internet stick figures.
Players probably won’t be expecting any production value from a game centered around stick figures, but there is some surprising storytelling involved. Animated cutscenes give players some convoluted context to missions and provide some funny moments, but the dialogue seems like it was written for 13-year-old boys. Voice acting is comically bad, and it’s hard to tell if that was done on purpose. There are also some glitchy moments when mouths move long after the dialogue has completed or is it just not in sync with the words.
Right out of the gate, it is obvious this game was made for the same people who still enjoy the Internet’s brutal animated stick figure videos. It is somewhere between niche and parody, but it could be quite off-putting to those who don’t fall into that niche.
Gameplay is obviously inspired by games such as Call of Duty and Sniper Elite. Most missions involve sniping specific targets. Players will see the level through a sniper scope, and will have to find and eliminate those targets. This is very simple on early levels, but players will receive more complicated instructions as they progress through the game. For instance, in one early mission, players will have to take out a target but make it appear as an accident by shooting a propane tank on a barbecue grill. In another level that has players carrying a pistol rather than a sniper, the target must be shot without actually killing him.
In addition to instructions becoming more complex, levels also expand and targets get further away. Players will have to find enemy patterns and attempt to view the whole map before taking action, which can be frustrating without the ability to get a complete map view.
Players earn in-game currency by completing missions and performing tasks, which can be used to upgrade weaponry. However, this seems to have little impact during gameplay. Weapons mostly handle the same, and levels can be completed without upgrading firearms.
Gameplay is functional, but it is not very challenging or rewarding. Missions can easily be completed through trial and error, and killing off helpless stick figures just doesn’t provide a sense of accomplishment. Maybe it’s because they’re stick figures, maybe because they can’t fight back, or maybe it’s because the attempt at a plot doesn’t make players feel like they’re really fighting bad guys, something seems eerie about shooting enemies in the head.
Stick Squad 3 – Modern Shooter is mostly just shooting for the sake of shooting, and it is not fun even as a mindless timewaster.