A game set at the turn of the century dealing with child abduction, labor strife, and poverty, all done in a whimsical silent-movie style and featuring a cast of matryoshka (nesting) dolls with diverse powers? Yeah, Tim Shafer and Double Fine Productions are back.
Stacking is a small, Xbox/PSN Arcade game developed simultaneously with Double Fine’s more high-profile Brutal Legend, and is altogether more entertaining and imaginative than its big-budget cousin.
Each kind of doll has a unique power. Some of these are useless, such as playing tag or going to the bathroom. But some are essential for solving puzzles, and therein lay the key to the gameplay. If you need to lure a doorman away from his door, you can use the female doll that screams (he’ll rush to her aid) or the female doll that “seduces” (he’ll fall in love and abandon his post for a few seconds). Many locations include multiple solutions, so you might find yourself clearing a room by (ahem) passing gas into a ventilator, or by infiltrating the room as a mechanic, or by sneaking past the guard.
This is an immensely clever and appealing game. There is a bit of potty humor (belching, flatulence, bathroom visits, etc), but nothing too offensive. The odd and disappointing part is the length. For a game that is jammed with detail and loaded with potential, the adventure itself plays out rather quickly. A sequel—The Lost Hobo King—is already out, but it’s even shorter. I guess there are worse things to say about a game than “I wish it went on longer.”