Double Fine is at it again: This time they mix a Victorian setting with Russian matryoshka dolls – an odd mix that creates a game that is as quirky as it is enjoyable.
Charlie Blackmore’s life ain’t easy: He is the smallest kid in a big family and recently every member of them has been taken to work for the evil baron. Luckily he is the smallest matryoshka doll. This lets him stack into others bigger than him, using their abilities to his advantage.
Playing as Charlie, in Stacking you are thrown into a very odd world: Starting at a train station you try to figure out where your family members ended up. On your way you have to overcome situations that the other dolls can’t figure out by themselves. A clock is broken and messes up the train’s schedule, or a commotion at the ticket counters will hold up the queue. All these situations can be solved by stacking into other dolls and then applying their abilities to the situation, enabling you to progress to other levels. As unique as the inhabitants of Stacking are, as varied are their skills: There is a maiden that seduces men or a boxer that packs a punch. How that fits into a plan that solves the situation at hand – that’s up to you to figure out: There is always more than one way to solve a riddle like that, and the game encourages and rewards experimentation.
Exploring the levels, stacking into various dolls and then causing mischief with them is simple fun. With delight I always looked at the reactions I would cause with a new-found ability – like the glove slap or something silly like that. This is actually essential to the game: getting to know the dolls triggers ideas in you how you can use them to solve previous riddles differently, and since they are all usually quite easily reachable and can be redone, it never feels like a chore.
Each of the four main levels comes with their own sets of dolls, so you usually always see something new. Towards the last third of the game you even have to combine different abilities. To make sure you never get stuck, the game offers a readily available hint system, and before the game becomes too stretched out it ends – on a nice and fitting note in the perfect length.
Stacking is a great game for all ages with fun writing, fun game play and a very creative setting and core mechanic.