Stacking: A Silent Review

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Where do I begin with this? Stacking is the 2nd of 4 downloadable games to come out of Tim Schafer’s Double Fine studio. The story is set during the industrial age, where an evil industrialist named The Baron is forcing children to work. The Blackmore family, whose father mysteriously disappears, comes into debt, with the whole family forced into work to pay it off, with the exception of the smallest Blackmore, Charlie. Soon, Charlie learns that his family is being forced to work as slaves with no chance of escape. Using his ability to hop into and control other dolls and use their unique abilities, it is up to Charlie to rescue his family, stop The Baron and put an end to child labour once and for all.

In the style of old timey silent movies, there is no dialogue, conversations taking place only in cutscenes and even then the words are conveyed through those screens with the words on them.

Anyways, I went into this game with the taste of Double Fine’s last game Costume Quest in my mouth, so my expectations were high. This game thoroughly pleased me in as a high regard as Costume Quest did, possibly even more.

It surprised me that no one had thought of something like this before, using Russian matryoshka dolls as a gameplay device. It seemed such a natural thing to do. Regardless, it’s exactly as it would seem. You can go inside a doll one size bigger than you and control them. They, in turn can go inside one bigger than them and you control them and so on and so on. Each doll has a special ability, some more helpful than others. For example, little girls can play tag with each other. That is a somewhat useless ability, whereas fancy gentlemen blowing smoke can be helpful in places. A personal favourite of mine is a little boy on a cruise ship whose special ability is to ‘toss cookies’ wherein he vomits up whole cookies. It’s amusing. These abilities can be linked in order to complete objectives which I will cover now

Each scenario in the story is comprised of missions and each mission can be completed a few different ways. Along with that are things called hijinks which are little things you can do just for completion sake, really. One that stands out in my mind is called ‘Blast on the Past’ in which you control a doll which farts and you use him to fart on an elderly person. Again, highly amusing.

The music is top notch, the old timey piano is so effective while still staying simple. It can be menacing, it can be funny, it can be sombre.

The visuals are stunning. While not photorealistic (it’s not supposed to be), the quirky look of this cartoony game are excellent. The entire time it has this washed look that is very reminiscent of the era. Not black and white but very drab. That being said, it’s still very pleasing to the eye.

Gameplay is simple but does what it has to do. You can hop inside a doll one size bigger than you and that doll can go inside a doll one size bigger than it and so on and so forth until you get to the biggest size doll, of which won’t yield anything special except for the fact that you’re big. Really big. The walking is a bit wonky but the bottom of each doll is a circle so that may be contributing. Other than that, this game plays very smoothly and very fun.

All in all, this game isn’t short of fun, you shouldn’t have too hard a time getting 100%, it took me a few days so you guys should manage.

I didn’t really have any bone to pick with this game other than the lack of significant abilities. The length wasn’t short but it wasn’t long by any means. Thankfully, some DLC is on the way.

I’m gonna give this game a 4.5 out of 5

Rating: ★★★★½

About Ian Long

Ian Long is the resident Canadian. Likes new games but prefers old ones. He is also usually the one that has an opinion that the rest don't agree with.