Is it Rambo? Is it Bruce Lee? Is it Jackie Chan? Maybe Chuck Norris? No. It’s Stickman Backflip Killer 4. Cringe tolerance mode: on.
Stickman games have been around for some time. That period has taught us an important thing. Somehow, these titles achieve the greatest success when they revolve around violence and inflicting pain to your avatar. Remember Stair Fall series, for example? Well Stickman Backflip Killer 4 is no different. You’ll have two modes to harm yourself and your opponents plenty enough. And it’s all done in that silly stickman fashion, we’re all accustomed to. Parkour mode has 20 levels, and Killer one features 30. So that’s a total of fifty levels of carnage and violence.
In this mode, you’ll start by holding the run button. That triggers the charging, which will go to its full potential, but will go back if you hold it for too long. So you have to estimate when to release that button to get the best running start. Your stickman will start running, but in a slow motion manner. After that, you’ll adjust the angle of your jump. What you want to achieve will depend on the obstacles ahead. Sometimes it’s good to jump with an arc and sometimes it should be more straightforward. When you have the desired angle, you have to decide when to actually make the jump. You have some space ahead of you, but you have to make the jump before the exclamation point sign. After you press the jump button, speed goes back to normal, and off you go!
There are a lot of different obstacles in this mode. But, if you either don’t reach the goal, or get hurt while attempting, it’s a game over and you have to restart the level. Barriers can be chasms, spinning saw blades, tires, ramps or even swings and similar acrobatic constructions. For successful completion of levels, you receive dollars, as the main virtual currency of the game. You can use those to unlock new moves, animations and stunts, or to buy equipment and upgrades for your stickman. Those can be cosmetic, but can also increase some stats like running speed, jump efficiency, armor, your weight, and similar. You can skip the dressing part and simply upgrade stats you want by purchasing skill points. That way you can increase the height of your jump, the attractiveness of your stunts, your armor and your health.
Control system and physics
Although it was fun to watch those stickmen get hurt while I was 14, it’s not so much fun with 24. Even the (I guess) intentionally clumsy system and physics don’t make me laugh like I used to, while playing these titles. You don’t actually have a lot of control over your character. The only time the game actually does let you participate is when you prepare for action, but are merely a spectator while the action itself is happening. You can’t control your stickman while it’s in mid air, you can just give him instructions what stunts to perform. No matter how silly it will sound, you don’t have any connection to your character. While the goal in this mode is not to purposely hurt your character, you do feel more satisfied when that happens and less when you actually reach your target and finish the course.
It’s even more ridiculous and silly! But, I have to admit, more fun also. You start off very similarly like in the parkour mode. Land a successful jump power on the meter, and choose an angle. But, this time, instead of reaching the flag, you need to kill other stickmen that are in your way. You do that by simply flying into them, or knocking them down and make them end up in a dangerous environment, hopefully. Luckily, unlike the parkour mode, you have multiple attempts to do so. Don’t know actually how much, but I guess until you run out of health?
The best thing is that you use the same palette of upgrades and equipment you bought during the parkour mode, so you can combine your progress and money earned between these two. After some time you’ll run into more goons, that are better equipped and armed, but at level 16 you get a pistol too! So you can choose if you’ll try out some crazy stunts in order to dodge bullets and land killing blows, or you’ll fire your pistol while in the air. That’s when the things get interesting, finally! But only for a short amount of time.
I know these games should look “bad” and simple, and while that is the case, it’s not about how this title looks. It’s about how it feels. Although, stickmen could use some unique aspects and details that can be simple and goofy (like maybe some eyes or mouth…). The lack of animation and fun physics make this action game feel like it doesn’t deserve that attribute. Everything seems so stiff, unresponsive and unfinished. Like a prototype for a game, not the completed stuff. And it actually isn’t. A lot of options in the game, like some of the weapons are labeled with: coming soon type of messages. So, aside that it’s available too early, let’s hope something will change regarding this. And, developers, please do think about implementing more engaging and lively music and sound effects. These right now are terrible and dull.
In the world of video games, these stickman titles should strike the players as parodies of some more “serious” and “ambitious” installments. But you need humor and good taste for that too. It doesn’t mean that if the games should seem bad, that they actually need to be done without careful integration and iteration of smart and cunning: game, level and art design. Some fresh ideas would be pleasing also. This game, at this phase, showed zero interest in things like that. It’s too simple and too bad to be received as good. This is not the movie industry, notorious for its examples like The Room. Games have to be fun, in order to be played.
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