Real Talk By: D.
Stacking is the latest game by Double Fine, the studio that most recently brought you Costume Quest. Stacking is best described as a puzzle game featuring Russian nesting dolls. In Stacking, you take the role as Charlie, the smallest of these dolls. The game begins with the disappearance of your father and the kidnapping of your brothers and sisters who are forced into child labor by the Baron. Your task is to rescue your family from the evil Baron, and put an end to child labor.
Stacking’s gameplay involves using various sizes of stacking dolls to solve puzzles in order to progress through the story. The story is represented through silent film style cutscenes that are often funny and entertaining, though sometimes they can be stale. Each of the game’s many unique dolls possesses it’s own personality and special ability. In order to make use of these abilities, one must stack into another doll, the trick being that you can only stack into dolls exactly one size larger than you and you can only stack into a doll whose back is facing you. The interactions between the dolls and their abilities is often hilarious, and you’ll want to spend time experimenting with all of the dolls and seeing how other dolls react. There are optional challenges called hi-jinks that revolve around this. Unique dolls can also be collected by stacking into them and many will find it fun to hunt down all the dolls. The dolls feature a great amount of detail, and the game world that they populate is visually charming.
Puzzles in the game range from super easy to surprisingly difficult, and each puzzle has multiple solutions, with only one being required to progress the story. Most puzzles you’ll see the logic behind, but often times you’ll find yourself asking, “How was I supposed to know to do that?” Thankfully, the game features a helpful hint system, giving you hints in the stages in which you have to wait a certain amount of time before accessing , until basically telling you what to do. The game also features a button that points you to your next objective. Sometimes the hint system makes the game a little too easy. I suggest only using it if absolutely necessary, as it has the potential to suck a lot of the fun out of the game.
Overall, if you just run through the story, the game might take only 3 to 5 hours to complete. To get the most out of Stacking, you’ll want to collect all the dolls, do all the hi-jinks, and find all the solutions to all of the puzzles. After doing this however, there’s little reason to go back and play it again. Stacking is a fun, unique, and humorous puzzle game, and although some of the jokes can fall flat, Stacking is well worth the price of admission.
4 out 5
+ Unique concept and art style.
+ Large variety of dolls and abilities.
+ Charming and funny.
– Some jokes and cutscenes fall flat.
– Short. Little incentive to play again after doing everything.
Available on: Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15) and PlayStation Network for $15.