Review: Stacking



Developer: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC

I’m going to tell you why I fell in love with Double Fine Productions’ Stacking: This is one of the cutest and unique approaches to the puzzle genre in quite a while.  Presented in a vintage style reminiscent of the 1930s, Stacking’s simple storyline coupled with its fun game play creates an extremely enjoyable experience.

Story

Stacking begins with a short cut scene showing the Blackmore family who are Russian dolls.  The father is excitedly telling his family about his new position working for The Baron.  Unfortunately, the father never returns to his family and the mother sells off all of their remaining possessions to survive.  Eventually, the children are taken by the Baron to repay the debt the family has incurred.  Charlie Blackmore is deemed too small to be of any use and is left alone with his mother.  Charlie realizes he will never see his siblings again and sets out to save them from The Baron.

The story in Stacking is very straight forward and contributes more to the overall ambiance of the game rather than being the most compelling part.  Charlie uses his unique ability to control other dolls to set his siblings free one at a time.  The cut scenes are beautifully done and are comprised solely of music and subtitles with no spoken word in the game.  The cut scenes look like a play shot in a vintage 1930s film style.  Overall, the cut scenes are enjoyable and allow the simple story to be told in an engaging manner.

Game Play

Controlling Charlie is exceptionally easy in Stacking.  The controls are very straight forward and allow players to have fluid movement throughout the game.  Playing as Charlie, players move through the world and are able to “stack” into other dolls by moving behind them.  Players are then able to control the doll and gain access to the doll’s special action.  These actions provide Charlie the means to solve the fantastic puzzles throughout the game.


In order to rescue his family, Charlie must complete puzzles in each section of the game to free a family member.  These puzzles can be simple in nature or exceedingly complicated; however only one solution is required to progress the storyline.  Players can revisit any previous puzzle to find additional solutions as there are multiple solutions for each puzzle.  The puzzles are wacky, challenging, aloof, and often have Charlie completing comedic tasks to reach his objective.

Visuals/Audio

Visually, Stacking can be described as cute.  The dolls are richly detailed and are set in environments with just enough detail to create an immersive experience.  The sound effects in Stacking complement the environments and create an ambiance during the cut scenes that emphasizes the time frame of Stacking.  Overall, Stacking is visually adorable with excellent sound effects.

Summary

Double Fine Production’s Stacking is a great adventure puzzle game that allows players to play with dolls no matter their age.  The serious undertone, comedic encounters, and beautiful dolls combine to create an excellent addition to the puzzle genre.  Stacking is a fun, quirky, and unique puzzle experience that every gamer should encounter at least once.

Score

8.5/10

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