Developed by Double Fine
Available on Steam
In Stacking, the player plays as tiny Russian doll Charlie Blackmore, who’s siblings are forced into child labour by evil industrialist The Baron after the disappearance of their father leaves the family in debt. Little Charlie is too small to work and is left at home with his mother but when he gets wind that his siblings are pretty much enslaved with no hope of escape, he decides to use his size as advantage and save his brothers and sisters. With ability to fit inside bigger russian dolls and control them and their characteristics, Charlie embarks on his rescue mission.
Stacking from developer Double Fine is a heartwarming game that embraces humour along with entertaining gameplay amidst a serious backdrop. The novel gameplay mechanics of being able to control a character that can slip inside or stack into bigger characters is a genius one that sets it apart from other games. As Charlie, the player is able to fit into Russian dolls that are on size bigger than Charlie. Each type of Russian doll has a special ability, be it an uppercut punch or smelly fart that will clear crowds in seconds. When playing as Charlie inside another doll, the player has full control of the new doll. Charlie’s stacking ability continues that he can then fit inside an even bigger Russian doll that is one level bigger than the one he’s currently in, and so on. To fit inside or drop the shell of a Russian doll, it must be done in order i.e. Charlie cannot jump inside a Large Russian doll straight off. He must enter a small, then medium Russian doll before he can enter a large one. The special abilities which each doll has can help Charlie solve both the main story puzzles and side missions (like finding a full family set of Russian dolls), though getting inside the correct doll and finding the right ability may be easier said than done.
The industrial setting of Stacking makes for some beautiful visuals. The first level, which acts as a tutorial, sees Charlie wander through a crowded train station. The second level takes place upon a ship of which you can travel along the deck or inside the ship where one of the travellers is consuming too much cavier, much to the annoyance of some of the ship’s staff. It’s on this level that I unfortunately suffered from severe motion sickness, akin to sea sickness (how apt!), which left me with no choice but to abandon ship. Several attempts at playing left me badly ill so I doubt I will be able to continue with this cracking game, which is a darn shame.
Stacking is available on Steam and works well with the Xbox 360 controller for Windows, which is how I played the game, and even has Steam trading cards that can be sold or swapped on the marketplace or collected to craft a badge.
I’d have loved to continue with the game and enjoy the effort that Double Fine have put in, as well as the endearing storyline, but alas, it looks like that ship has sailed. Therefore I will score the game on my experience thus far. As long as you don’t suffer from motion sickness, I highly recommend checking this game out.