I can imagine that most of us, at one point during our childhood or any other point in our lives for that matter, have had a go at drawing a stick man who leaps across the corners of a book as we quickly flick through its pages, thus creating a moving image of our very own creations. Well, now you can go one step further by hacking, slashing and being downright heroic with Hitcents’ Draw a Stickman: Epic 2 on the Nintendo Switch.
The game begins with a blank canvas placed upon an easel where you can create your very own character. You start with a basic, but adequate, palette comprising of a few select colours and nib sizes. It doesn’t matter what artistic skills you may possess, drawing whatever character your imagination can conjure up is child’s play here, whether it be a basic stick man or fully formed graphical delight. There are even templates that you can trace around if your artistic flair falls a bit flat. You are then invited to draw a friend for your newly created character whom, once completed, duly falls off the page only to be coated in inkvil, a corrupted form of ink that transforms your new creation into an evil being. Without delay, the hero’s friend jumps into a nearby book, shredding its pages as it causes chaos throughout its story within.
This is where the pages of the game truly open up, as you guide your hero through the eight chapters of the book in a bid to combat the evil ink that has blotted its landscapes. Each chapter, or level, provides you with a hand-drawn setting that perfectly matches the art style of whatever character you have created. The further you explore these landscapes, the more you’ll come across various pencils that allow you to interact with these environments. It’s not long before you find yourself adding leaves to trees, drawing rainclouds to help things grow and even connecting wires to power things up. Various other collectibles lay scattered around these levels too, however these aren’t your usual redundant items. Puzzle pieces and colour buddies all add to further build towards your progression within the game, with the latter adding more colour to your palette which becomes necessary during later stages when you need to craft items of a certain colour.
The characters who reside within the story of the book offer helpful tips as you soon come up against varying puzzles that you need to solve in order to progress. This is where your interaction in changing the scenery with your creative imagination becomes an important element of the gameplay. Drawing swords for combat, pickaxes to mine and even eggs, all add towards your progression in overcoming the various challenges that this game throws at you. Although not too taxing on the brain, completing these puzzles do fill you with a sense of satisfaction when you find the solutions to them, which all adds to the fun and charm of this creative title.
It doesn’t take too long before you reach the scrolling of the end credits though, however, there is an abundance of replayability on offer here. Revisiting completed chapters with a full arsenal of pencils can open up previously unreachable areas, allowing you to collect items you may have missed the first time around. Plus you have your imagination that you can add to the mix, which is limitless, by replaying the game with differently drawn characters or by spending a little more time to craft more detailed heroes and equipment; you can even play through with some developer created designs that can be unlocked by performing various tasks within the game. This version of the game also comes bundled with the Drawn Below DLC which further adds to the longevity of the game. This is a direct follow on from the main game and offers a slight variation of gameplay with a dungeon crawling element filled with enough monsters and traps that are sure to keep you on your toes. Essentially, you end up getting two games for the price of one here.
Anyone who has played Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts will instantly feel at home with this title as it sits comfortably nestled between the two of them. Filled with a child-like charm, this game has a lot to offer with its endless creativity and really is a lot of fun to play. However, this was a title that was originally developed for the ios and android platforms, as well as the PC, with the Switch version being a port of the same game. When playing in portable mode, it runs like a dream and is perfectly suited to this element of the Switch’s gameplay. However, when the console is docked it easily highlights some alarming problems with porting over such software. Unfortunately, the creation and drawing tools don’t really cut it when it comes to using the shoulder buttons and joysticks to draw. You can put pen to paper but it just turns out to be very dysfunctional and doesn’t feel very intuitional at all. It’s by no means a game breaker, but it can easily make the whole experience a lot more frustrating when compared to drawing with the touchscreen. This may be something you may need to consider depending on how you like to play your games on Nintendo’s hybrid machine.
Despite some minor shortfalls, this game really is a lot of fun to play and, depending on your level of imagination, does have a lot to offer. Its quirkiness and charm all add to give the player a rewarding and enjoyable experience and is perfectly suited to the portability of the Switch whilst playing on a daily commute or lunch break. Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game and I’m sure you will too as this was most definitely a title that kept drawing me back into the pages of its story.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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