Bilge Kaan follows up his distinctly unique game Indecision. with another distinctly unique game, stikir. A fourth-wall breaking adventure about game creation, does its avant garde stylings lead to compelling gameplay?
The creator of this title, Bilge Kaan, wants to release his new title in six months. However, he is hitting some pitfalls – drawing is time consuming, and he does not know which direction to take things.
Enter the player – players will dive into Bilge’s mind as he articulates his thoughts into gameplay. As one would expect, an experience such as this one is far from cohesive. One section may have players jumping into a top-down racing game with the protagonist as a car, while another sends players off on a JRPG adventure to fetch water for coffee. By the time the 45 minute playthrough is over, players will have also jumped into the shmup, platforming, and shooter genres.
Though this is most certainly a unique premise, it often feels like players need to play the game Bilge’s way. The solution to each area is not clear cut – one area might require going off-screen, while another requires some trial and error to figure out where you need to go.
However, therein lies the problem. Though the title likes to subvert expectations at every turn, it can also come across as obtuse to the point of frustration. Penalties are minor, with failure remedied with infinite lives. However, doing the same thing over and over until the solution becomes clear borders on insanity; oftentimes it feels like players need to break the game to get ahead. The platforming often follows odd rules too – the game sometimes has the players intentionally fail the first time around, only to make a point about the development of the title. Even the act of selecting a character can be tiresome, with only one correct option out of multiple for the sake of making a joke or an observation.
This leads to the humor found in stikir. It can be amusing to use text to climb or navigate traffic with a sword, but there are a number of jokes that miss the mark by a mile. Riding a crying deer to play Pong with a basketball comes across as random rather than hilarious. It might be original, but this quirkiness can come across as grating.
Unfortunately, stikir lacks the replayability needed to keep players coming back. A fair amount of achievements can be yours for playing the game a certain way (almost in a counter-intuitive way), but players will see everything the game has to offer on their initial playthrough. Knowing the solution to each area takes the novelty out of things, and makes things come across as busy work in additional playthroughs.
stikir provides a refreshing jaunt through the mind of a creator, but the obtuse logic and quirky humor leads to an experience that is best suited for a select audience.