Stacking screenshot
Stacking screenshot

For those of you clamouring for a game that lets you live out your dream of crawling inside dolls and wearing them like a pelt: you're in luck.

Stacking is the latest game to be born out of Double Fine Production's recent development strategy. After Brutal Legend's release Tim Schafer and the team went a different direction and implemented a system based on a brainstorming technique from Kar Wai Wong, the Japanese director who once wrote the scripts for two of his most successful films by sitting in a hotel for two weeks with a few actors. Similarly, Double Fine was split into teams to develop smaller titles faster. Heading one of these teams is Brutal Legend's art director, Lee Petty, who had a hand in shaping what's likely to be one of the most imaginative titles of this year.

As the story goes, the idea behind Stacking came from Lee watching his daughter play with Russian Matryoshka dolls, and keeping in the context of child's play the game's environment looks like it's been modelled after a cubic tonne of playroom leftovers. Planks on ships are made from Popsicle sticks, tents are held up with spoons, and so it makes sense that you're a toy as well. In this case you're Charlie, the Matryoshka world's smallest doll. You're a chimney sweep in a makeshift nineteenth-century toyland, and your family has been forced into indentured servitude as child labourers by a local industrialist. Your job is to find and reunite them, and to do this you use your skills in jumping inside of others and taking over their bodies, and I write that in the twee-ist sense of the phrase.

On a scale from quaint to whimsical Stacking hits somewhere directly in between the two, with Charlie stacking into others and acquiring their specific special abilities to solve puzzles. Some of them will shake salt from their hair, some of them will burp and clear a room, some of them will play violin or sip tea, some of them will be birds or terriers. Every doll has an ability, some more unique than others, and finding them is the key to getting 100% completion.

At times it touches on the classic absurdism we've seen in past Schafer titles. An example: The Baron screaming "RELEASE THE FISH" as Goldfish cheese crackers pour onto the sides of his blimp like an orange geyser. Even the puzzles have a slightly absurdist edge. How do you clear a room of toxic gas? Introduce it to a woman that farts flowers. How do you get past a guard? Stack into a dog. How do you ruin navigation maps? Stack into a window-cleaner and wash off the ink.

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7 Comments

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User Comments

SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Bought it yesterday an I'm now on the final stage.
Ridiculously charming, really enjoying it.
Double Fine have found their spot I guess.
Posted 19:01 on 17 February 2011
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

I played the trial version and thought it was great, I think the whole Russian doll thing is a fantastic idea.
Posted 20:51 on 16 February 2011
mikejosh1978's Avatar

mikejosh1978

had a quick rasp last night and its good , even better being free on the ps+ service lol.
Posted 11:57 on 16 February 2011
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio

* lollipop :-)
Posted 10:50 on 16 February 2011
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Downloading now.
Posted 18:03 on 15 February 2011
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Looking forward to getting round to this.
I may even purchase it tonight, I loved Costume Quest :)
Posted 17:44 on 15 February 2011
RecoN's Avatar

RecoN

Got this game and its brilliant, but its really short. Hopefully some DLC or sequels :D
Posted 15:02 on 15 February 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Stacking
8
Out of 10
Stacking
  • Brilliantly varied puzzle solutions
  • Memorable art design
  • Charming
  • More faintly whimsical than it is funny
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/02/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Adventure
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 1,222 128
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