Quick review: Stacking

Stacking is an easy, family-friendly puzzle game themed around stacking dolls. Each doll has an ability, and you use those to solve the puzzles. It comes from the fine people at Double Fine. A 100% playthrough is in the 8-12 hour range; if you go straight through without fiddling with the optional content, probably half of that. This includes the DLC that is included with the PC version on Steam.

The puzzles are simple. You can usually solve them with a doll immediately at hand. They are also well designed in that they have multiple solutions and some of those solutions have multiple options. The introductory challenge has three ways to get past it, and one of those ways can be implemented in at least two ways. I solved some puzzles accidentally just by seeing what the various dolls in the rooms could do. If you are having trouble, the game has a built-in hint system with increasingly explicit instructions as you ask for more hints. You will likely need it for a 100% completion. Some of the solutions exhibit a bit of adventure game logic, and sometimes you might not guess which variations count as one or more solutions. For example, in the DLC, two ways of fighting off the ghouls count as the same solution, but another way is a separate one; there are several soup- and disease-involved ways to make a guard sick, and they count as three solutions. Also good luck guessing how to get some of the “hi jinks”; the common problem of “right idea, slightly off” arises.

The story involves saving Charlie’s family, which has been forced into child labor by the dastardly baron. It has a Victorian tone and takes a lighthearted approach to child labor, indentured servitude, industrial pollution, homelessness, and poverty. Seriously, it’s really cheerful despite the setting, kind of the opposite of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Stiff upper lip, no worries, our can-do spirit will see us through!

You will be spending a lot of time in cut scenes. It takes a while for there to be much gameplay, rather than a series of introductory stories. Every scene changes has a cut scene or two. They are done as silent films: dolls emoting while instrumental music plays in the background, and then a card with their dialogue. It is timed for a low grade level’s reading speed.

Fun, flexible, and silly. Largely worth the time, if you enjoy this sort of thing. Your price point may be below the $15 retail; I got it on a Steam sale. If you do not have any Double Fine games, there are frequent sales on the three-pack, and their next game is ever in the works.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Quick review: Stacking”

  1. I got it on one of those 66% off sales. I only played it for a couple of hours; not because I didn’t like it any more, but because I then went on vacation, and when I came back, I focused on other things again. It was very enjoyable, I especially like the faux-silent movie cut scenes, though just running around and talking to the some of the dolls revealed funny lines, too.

    I totally agree: depending on your wallet, you might not find the non-discounted $15 price tag on Steam worthwhile (but that goes for pretty much everything on Steam, right?), but if you can get the pack or the game on its own on discount, it is definitely worth checking out.

  2. Strange thing is a friend of mine got motion sick from the game. Said something about the movement of the dolls did it to him. A quick web search showed he wasn’t alone. Wondering if anyone else had problems with that?

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