The Russian nesting dolls of Stacking are every bit as enchanting on the PC as they were on consoles.
- Beautiful world with a charming, handcrafted feel
- Dozens of dolls to stack into with fun abilities to use
- Satisfying puzzles with numerous solutions
- Hi-jinks encourage experimenting with dolls' abilities.
- Story can be completed quickly and easily
- Minor camera issues and visual blemishes.
Last year, the delightful world of Stacking opened its miniature gates to players on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Now, the lively Russian nesting dolls who populate this handcrafted adventure have migrated to the PC, and these delicate dolls have suffered nary a crack in the transition. Stacking invites you to visit a place that's bursting with charming characters, endearing visual details, and satisfying puzzles to solve. It's a game that appeals to the child in each of us, the part of us that finds joy in the simple act of play.
Charlie Blackmore is the youngest member of the Blackmore family, and the smallest doll in the entire world of Stacking. An evil industrialist called the Baron exploits the less fortunate for his own gain, and when the working-class Blackmore clan falls into debt, all the children are rounded up by the Baron's lackeys and forced into labor. All except little Charlie, that is, who soon sets off to free his siblings from their oppressive circumstances. It's a sad situation, and Stacking doesn't shy away from tugging at your heartstrings a bit or from confronting the grim issue of child labor. But the game doesn't bludgeon you over the head with its weighty themes; these concerns are a melancholy undercurrent running beneath the whimsical surface.
To rescue his siblings, the plucky Charlie must resolve labor disputes, get cruise ships to return to port, and more. The world in which these adventures take place is a charming realm that looks as if it were carefully cobbled together from household items and the old toys and knickknacks that you might find gathering dust in a musty old attic. Look closely and you'll see that the suitcases are actually matchboxes and the smokestacks on that steamship are actually cigars.
The dolls who populate this world look like hand-painted treasures, with such small details in their faces and their clothing that you'll want to take a moment to admire each new doll you encounter and appreciate the artist's work. The dolls are inflexible--they have no arms to swing or legs to step with--but they nonetheless move with a great deal of expressiveness. They hop along jauntily in a style that resembles stop-motion animation, shuffle impatiently while waiting in lines, and pop their tops momentarily when alarmed. The camera nestles in a bit too close at times, and there are some areas in which the upper part of a doll passes right through a low overhang, shattering the illusion that this is an elaborate living diorama. But these are minor blemishes in a game whose visuals are usually enchanting.
You'll want to spend some time just soaking in Stacking's elegant atmosphere, but the real fun begins when you start to play with the world. Charlie Blackmore's diminutive size is his greatest asset; as the smallest of all dolls, he can nest inside and take control of any doll that's one size larger than he is. That doll can similarly stack into a doll that's one size larger, and so on. The game calls this process stacking, and it's both fun and useful, because each doll that you stack into has an ability.
Many of these abilities are handy in solving the numerous puzzles you encounter on your quest to free your siblings. If you need to create chaos at a safari, for instance, taking control of a Kodiak bear and using its "growl" ability on the guests should certainly cause a panic. Each puzzle has a number of solutions, and while you need to find only one solution to a puzzle to continue the story, solving a puzzle in multiple ways enhances the decor in your secret hideout, where the friendly hobo Levi paints the walls to chronicle your travels.
Very good, fun and original game.Well done, Tim Schafer ! But remember, we still want Brutal Legend on the PC, better late than never !
really great studios. I was sold after playing Brutal Legend. They are really inventive and talented.