Though much of Stacking's charm lies in its simplicity, on occasion it can can feel like the puzzle designers held back a little. It would have been nice to see a few more elaborate puzzles - especially since the game has a pretty lenient tutorial system included.
While Stacking does allow for some degree of experimentation in the main puzzles, players get to express themselves a little more in the side-quests and hi-jinks challenges.
Each of the four areas Charlie visits on his quest offer multiple scattered characters in need, many of which aren't part of the core plot. These often require the player to venture into all corners of the environment, searching for the best suited doll. Together with hi-jinks challenges, which task the player with seeking out a particular ability (yes, these include farting), Stacking can quickly become a completionist's dream - or an obsessive's nightmare.
The railway station, zeppelin, cruiseship and multi-storey train Charlie visits all have a specific theme to them, but the thrill is often in the detail. They're all furnished with heart-warming props and decorations, such as tables made from spoons, kids' play blocks and cardboard cut outs of animals. Each place gets its own distinct, if consistently whimsical feel. The diminutive Charlie is often dwarfed by these objects, giving the game a 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' strain of charm.
Stacking's silent movie presentation is furnished with characters acting out scenes that are punctuated with humorous text-based dialogue. This is complimented by a classic jaunty piano track that becomes suitably melodramatic, frantic and playful depending on each scene.
The overall aesthetic perfectly encapsulates the 1920s comedy film vibe, and helps set Stacking's handsome art style even further away from anything seen in games before. If Double Fine's wish was to create a unique, captivating world, they've achieved it with aplomb.
In all likelihood, you'll be too busy grinning from ear to ear to become overly frustrated by Stacking's Achilles heel - its all-too-regularly undemanding, straightforward challenges. The fact it doesn't outstay its welcome helps, of course - but perhaps the inclusion of one more area would have been welcomed.
By no means the perfect game for MENSA brain-teaser addicts or uber-patient RPG grinders, then; but Stacking never pretended to be. Double Fine has formed an elementary but elegant puzzle mechanic, beautifully wrapped in an original, beguiling presentation style. We fully recommend you climb inside.
Its stars may be hollow, but Stacking is stuffed full of charisma, cleverness and charm.
- Heart-warming characterisation
- Brimming with originality
- Often chucklesome
- Gorgeous, accomplished art style
- Charlie Blackmore is a lead to cherish
- Puzzles are too easy too often
- A bite-sized piece of entertainment at just over four hours