Stacking is an Adventure/puzzle game developed by Double Fine and published by THQ. It was released on February 2011 for Xbox 360 and PS3. A Windows version was released on March 6th, 2012.
Every character in the game is a matryoshka doll, an idea brought up by Double Fine art director Lee Petty.
Set in the industrial age, we take the role of Charlie, the youngest (and smallest) member of the Blackmore family. After the mysterious disappearance of Charlie’s dad, the family comes into debt and falls into poverty, and this forces all of our siblings into working to pay off said debt (except us, because we are too small to be of any use.) Later on, Charlie learns that his siblings are being made to work as slaves for The Baron, an evil industrialist.
It’s up to us to go on a quest to save them and show the world that even the smallest person can do big things.
Throughout the story we will visit many different locations, like a train yard, a cruise ship, and more. All of the zones are beautifully designed and are really fun to explore.
Being as small as we are, we have the ability to “stack” into other dolls of bigger size. These dolls all have different abilities, some of them useful and some of them just hilarious. However, we can’t just stack on any doll we want, and we must follow a size order — we can’t just go to a doll much bigger than us, we have to find smaller dolls and stack one into another to reach the bigger ones.
Throughout the game we are faced with different challenges that let us progress in the story. These challenges all have different, logical, ways of overcoming them, and this is where the abilities of the other dolls come into play. For example, in one challenge you have to empty a room full of dolls, and one way to beat it is to use a farting doll and rip one loose into the ventilation system. Completing challenges in every possible way rewards you with new things for your secret hideout.
Said hideout (which is unlocked after the first level) will house all sort of things, like paintings (which will fill themselves out as we find new ways to do challenges, and will be complete once we try all ways) and unique dolls that we can gather throughout the game. Overall there are lots of extra things to do to keep you entertained for a long time.
Graphics and Music
Visually, the game is gorgeous. Despite all characters being just dolls, one can see that the developers went to great lengths to design each and every one of them, to the point where sometimes we just want to stare at each doll to find every little detail they have on them. The environment looks and feels like industrial London, and each zone is carefully designed.
The cutscenes are great, too. They’re done like silent films, with the characters moving around and the dialogue screens popping up.
And a special mention to the music, which blends really well into the environment. It’s lovely, and every zone has its own tune. All of it makes the game truly feel like you are playing through a silent film.
Stacking is a great game. It can be a little slow at first, but once you go through the first level, you can’t stop playing til you reach the end — which sadly arrives early, and the game feels too short, but what is there is full of memorable (and funny) moments. The puzzles are fun and (if you avoid the hint system) some of them can be really challenging to complete.