Back in 2001, Xgen Studios came to Newgrounds.com with Stick RPG, their first try into the ever expansive but declining flash game world that was the true start for indie games on the internet. Stick RPG was a… dare I say open-world game? It was certainly sandbox, I could never deny that, but its strengths lied more in its charm than its gameplay, and that’s actually the best part of it. It certainly doesn’t conform to what makes a AAA game, but most certainly conforms to what makes a piece of entertainment; giving you things to do, see and read in your own time and for your enjoyment.
Years later,Stick RPG 2: Director’s Cut sticks to the very same recipe and formula that made Stick RPG the 24+ Million play count game and cult classic that it is today.
Charm is something I find to be the most valuable thing a game can offer you, many a time have I found myself playing a game that is generally considered to be bad, but still drawing a lot of enjoyment from the nostalgia and the experience that I had with the game. Two Worlds, a game that is more often than not regarded as one of the worst RPG’s of all time for its bugs and deplorable presentation, is a game I personally hail as one of my favourite games ever, simply because it was I that played it and the singular, subjective experience I had with it ended up being fun and one I would happily relive. And the same applies for the fans of the original Stick RPG, a game which I played many times as a kid when a new game on Newgrounds was my version of a AAA game being released to the masses, back in the day where gaming was considered to be a pure and harmless industry.
So much controversy surrounds the video game industry nowadays, that it’s no wonder I find a game like Stick RPG 2: Director’s Cut so refreshing. I’ve always said that indie games are extensions of the collective imagination from a group of passionate individuals, and indeed, Stick RPG 2 comes across as a love letter and a thank-you note from XGen studios from all of the love following its predecessor. Every part of the map and world is unique with many, many things to do. There are a huge amount of profession opportunities with different requirements, things to buy, places to go. The NPC’s have hilarious dialogue options and the game even goes as far as to break the fourth wall by parodying its own original game in one of the main story sequences.
That’s not all, the game even features combat sections and arenas that are ripped straight from Stick Arena, a game which I also poured countless hours into when I was younger. Though the rewards for clearing these arenas are limited and there’s not much point in doing them, or the 1v1 fighting in the gyms, other than to kill some time and to gain a small strength increase. Nothing feels like a chore in this game, and I enjoyed wandering around the map just exploring the different buildings and doing quests for all of the NPC’s.
Coming to think of it, Stick RPG 2 reminds me a lot of not long ago released South Park: The Stick of Truth, a game that capitalized its success from its fan service and appropriate come dy, befitting of the South Park world and name. Without making any huge emphasis on beautiful graphics or set pieces that make you go “Oooh, ahh.”, it managed to tide me over by just being actually fucking interesting to play.
Stick RPG 2: Director’s Cut is a gem of a game. By no means is it a technical masterpiece, nor does it have a brilliantly composed soundtrack (though the ambient sound design is pretty spot on.) or fancy graphics. It instead has a small, familiar and perfectly detailed world that will become as familiar to you as the back of your own hand. By the end of my play through, and I use the term “end” loosely since I know I’m by no means finished with it, I was 400 days in with all of my stats over a thousand and with every profession mastered, and there is still so much more that I’m sure I haven’t seen.
Stick RPG 2: Director’s Cut has practically no fault about it, but I can’t issue it a legendary rating, because that just wouldn’t be fair. It’s a fantastic video game, one that will entertain you for days if you let it, and I’d recommend it to you, and everyone you know. Xgen Studios have clearly poured their hearts into this game as they have the last, and I’d be doing them a disservice to rip into the game for not being something, rather than appreciating it for what it is and all of the hard work the developers have clearly put into it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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