Stacking is ludicrous. At one point, I took control of a boxer, and proceeded to decapitate tiger standees, in order to close down a perfectly harmless safari. To say that the game encourages creative problem solving would be to do it a grave disservice. Stacking practically demands it, with every wooden orifice of its being oozing creativity, from the fantastic art on every wooden doll, to the paper cutout waves of an ocean filled with biscuit fish.
Before I get ahead of myself with my praise, you should to know the premise behind this whimsical adventure. You play Charlie Blackmore, the runt of a litter in a family of chimney sweeps. When your father goes missing while working for a mysterious figure known as “The Baron” and all your brothers and sisters with him, you set out to right some wrongs. As the smallest doll in the world, you possess the unique (or so it seems) ability to “Stack”. This comes down to sneaking up on various wooden members of society, and jumping inside them. Each doll has a unique role, and the mechanic of Stacking serves to streamline what would ordinarily be a fairly complex system. To put it bluntly, Stacking is Hitman seen through the lens of childhood playthings. Need to put out a fire? Find a fire-fighter doll, and so on and so forth. The beauty of this mechanic is that it ensures that the player knows that whatever doll they need to solve this puzzle is in the room, as while the solution may not be immediately clear, the mechanics needed to attain it are somewhat cleaner cut. Some of the more advanced solutions may require some more unconventional thinking though.
Visually, Stacking is a delight. Not since Critter Crunch have I seen a more convincing visual style, with every little piece fitting together perfectly. It really sells the idea of playing in this world populated with Russian Dolls. It feels like playing in a dolls house, where if you can’t find the thing you need, you make do with whatever you can get hands to. Can’t find actual fish? Use those little fish biscuits. Don’t have the doll you want? Make a cardboard cut out disguise! However, there is some slowdown in the game. While it isn’t noticeable a lot of the time, there are moments where the frame rate noticeably chugs, and it’s somewhat annoying. While stacking excels on the visual front, the sound is less memorable. It does a decent job with a selection of piano ditties, along with some fun effects. I don’t envy the person who had to make the sound of chucking up cookies.
All things considered, Stacking is a wonderful exercise in creative problem solving. The visuals are consistently glorious, and the gameplay is simple and fun until the credits roll. If you even hold the slightest bit of interest in the concept or the setting, you owe it to yourself to give Stacking a try.
For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Graphics are stellar, with a wonderful attention to detail
- The game is an exercise in creative problem solving
- Plenty of content to amuse yourself with
What I Dislike:
- Sound’s aren’t particularly memorable
- Some mild slowdown