Not everyone has an artistic bone in their body and that’s why a drawing game, that positively encourages the creation of stick people, seems perfect no matter what arty skills you possess. I am talking about the former mobile game, Draw a Stickman: Epic, which has now landed on the Xbox One console. Can drawing in its simplest form be a creative bundle of fun or will it actually be too basic to be entertaining?
Unfortunately it’s more of the latter.
Here we have an adventure that sees the protagonist go off in search of a close friend who’s been kidnapped by the evil Zarp. You are the hero and you will create this character to look however you wish it to within the limits of the creation options. It also lets you decide upon the design and the naming of the friend in need, thus this tale became the search for Dave!
The story takes place across the pages of a book, where you’ll traverse through a total of twelve levels, visiting areas such as Cuddle Bunny Peak, Volcanic Valley and even a graveyard. No matter where you are though, it’s all a bit bland with the majority of the world coloured in beige. Sure, there’s a bit of colour in the various creatures dotted around the place, but on the whole it’s ugly on the eyes.
What exactly does Draw a Stickman entail though? Well, other than the glaringly obvious initial task of drawing a stick person, it wants you to find an exit from the level for the main character on the journey towards rescuing your friend. The only helping hand comes from a solitary pencil, or occasionally a selection of pencils, to draw with. Without this, you’ve just got a naked stick person wearing a trendy hat…right? Well, that’s what mine wore!
There are five different variations of the pencil that come in the forms of fire, snow, clouds, key and axe pencils. Depending on the obstacles and situations in the area, these can be used to interact with items to access new routes or to ward off enemies. Fire comes in handy for burning stuff or lighting dynamite, whereas rain clouds can be drawn in a way that can cause lightning to electrocute an enemy. For any locks you just need a key and if any trees are in the way, just chop them down with an axe.
My sketching skills weren’t tested (fortunately) one bit because you can literally draw anything and it’ll work. Clouds were oblong, keys looked more like sticks and the axes were indescribable. The lack of accuracy needed almost makes it ideal for all to get involved but I personally felt it could’ve actually helped improve people’s drawing talent. If the game isn’t bothered about what I draw though, why should I when I’m just wanting to move on to the next level in the hope it’ll be more interesting.
Anti-Kinect gamers will be pleased to know that it can be completed in its entirety using a regular controller. It’s pretty tricky to do any decent drawings, even with the finesse levels of the analog stick, so don’t expect to be creating any masterpieces. The control scheme wasn’t particularly well thought out; when you go to draw you lose control of the character, hence if you’re nearby any dangerous foes it’s annoying to see a death incoming whilst you’re making it rain.
For the most part, Draw a Stickman: Epic leaves the player to their own devices which makes overcoming or bypassing enemies a tough task. Experimentation with the pencils on offer is your only friend until the solution jumps out as being something like a lightning strike. The enemies are a real varied bunch featuring characters such as zombies, armakillos (killer armadillos) and spiders.
Upon completion of the story you could go back for the collectibles which are puzzle pieces and new colours to use when creating your stick person. Levels are also miss-able due to the odd alternate exit route being in place. For a reason only the developers know, there’s a Christmas themed bonus level to play at anytime with elves and penguins present. This was arguably the most colourful and enjoyable level of them all, it’s just a shame they didn’t all follow suit.
Draw a Stickman: Epic has a pretty simple concept wrapped up in a rather basic surrounding that gets boring real quick. It could’ve been an inspiring tale to unleash the creative juices of gamers everywhere, but instead I was left drawing a line here and there whilst hoping for, and expecting, a greener grass around the next corner that never came to fruition. Maybe it’ll be better welcomed by kids, however it just didn’t have enough to entertain me.
You’d be better off going to your local stationary store and buying a sketch pad to do your own doodling on, it’ll be way more fun.