Stacking is one of very few Tim Schafer games that I hadn’t played. I read reviews that it was short and not particularly awesome, so I’d more or less ignored it. The Steam Summer Sale discounted it for less than $4, and I just couldn’t resist. So during our play time, for 3 or 4 straight days, the family gathered on the couch to watch Daddy play Stacking.
I have to admit, it was an excellent experience. Have you ever played an adventure game, and gotten stuck on a puzzle where you thought you had discovered the obvious solution? “Why must I go through all these machinations, when I should just be able to reach over there and do this one thing that makes it all better?” I frequently find myself saying.
Stacking circumvents this issue in some clever ways. First, most of the time you can take your pick of puzzles to play. There’s no need to be stuck or frustrated if you don’t like the puzzle in front of you. Second, there are always multiple solutions to each puzzle. Often times I found myself trying new things just out of curiosity, and discovering that I’d found some alternate solution. Third, there’s a good help system. Characters will give you little bits of direction that are frequently useful, and there’s a hint system in the pause menu that starts out gentle enough to give you a good push if you just don’t know what to do to make progress.
The game’s short, and probably extremely so if you’re only solving each puzzle once. That’s a terrible way to play the game though, since there’s so much charm and character to be seen with each doll and each solution you can come up with. Some of the solutions are a little obtuse, but none are terribly difficult to understand or implement once you’ve got the general concept.
Overall, I could think of far worse ways to spend $4. Stacking’s a charming, interesting, silly, and just plain fun game. I can honestly say the whole family enjoyed watching it and trying to help solve it’s puzzles.