Recently I’ve been in a creative slump. I have no drive to either write about or make games — I want to create, but there are just no ideas. That’s why I thought that Stikir would be an interesting experience, as it deals with a very similar problem, in an incredibly meta way. A game about the making of itself is a novel idea after all.
Headings are important in a review, right?
Once I started Stikir it welcomed me with a black screen and a white X in the middle. Having some game experience a player should quickly catch that they are meant to press the X button or X key, depending on their control scheme of choice. We are then placed in another screen where the player controls a ship shooting at a phrase about the creator’s expectations. I shot at the respawning words for a while before realising that to continue, I have to go out of the screen to the right.
This is where Stikir shows what it’s really about. The player embodies both the in-game character (that we choose right afterwards) and the developer on the journey to figure out what kind of game they want to make and to get through various speed bumps and creative blocks.
I should mention how it looks and sounds too
Stikir has simple, pixelated graphics that work quite effectively. Even though simple, there are effects that give it a more stylized look and a consistent style. Game developers often hide their inability to create 2D assets behind a simple pixelated style — this is not the case here, as the style makes perfect sense for an in-progress production.
To complement the mostly black screen the creator gave us some audio as well. The sound effects are fairly simple and convey what they have to, but the music is a bit more interesting. Ambient tones add to the feeling of unsureness, with some dulcet tones dispersed throughout the narrative. Sometimes the music picks up for a small segment like a racing game, but then it goes right back to white noise.
Just one more heading and I think that’s it
Stikir moves the player through the thoughts of Stikir’s game developer — with such choices as what kind of character should the game have, whether the game should be a racing game (with a racing segment to boot) or an open-world game. All of those are broken up by the developer’s thoughts (for example, one that platforms are useful in a platformer game) and needs, such as needing coffee — something almost every game developer is familiar with.
The only gripe I have with my experience was the difficulty spike in some sections. Maybe it was my unpreparedness, but every so often I got stuck for needlessly long times at certain spots, having to redo my actions over and over. It could be attached to the whole “making games ain’t easy” aspect, but I am not sure if that was what the creator intended.
In an interesting twist the game doesn’t end definitively but rather loops in on itself — at least it feels that way until there’s a slight change, and then the game ends somewhat abruptly. Projects are reworked or dropped, and new ones come in their place. I personally find myself at the beginning of a new project, something that’s never easy. Stikir translates that quite well, and I hope it wasn’t like that while making it.
Conclusions. That’s a thing in reviews, right?
As I reach the end of this article, I find myself torn. On one hand, Stikir is a technically well-made game with some twists and it raises an interesting point. But on the other, I’m not sure if what it brings to the table would be interesting enough to someone not necessarily involved with the game development. At least it got me writing again.
Stikir is available on Steam.