It’s no secret that I, along with most of the published gaming press, absolutely adored Double Fine’s Stacking which launched just a few short months ago. The original release has received quite a bit of critical acclaim from media outlets all over the world, including glowing reviews from both Cyril
here on Gaming Nexus. Before the game even made it out to the public, Tim Schafer’s team was already hard at work on a follow up adventure to the main game: The Lost Hobo King. The new adventure is finally here and takes players back to Stacking’s minuscular world with a tale that is a little more lighthearted than the initial game.
The Lost Hobo King brings Charlie Blackmore back for another adventure but this time he is helping out his hobo friend Levi. You won’t find yourself fighting for against child labor this time around, Levi is on a mission to help his uncle Rufus find and assemble the shattered crown belonging to the Lost Hobo King. Once the crown is assembled, the new Hobo King can take his thrown and lead the lost (hobo) kingdom of Camelfoot back to prosperity. Actually, the story as I have described it and how the marketing for the game has pitched it is a little misleading. You won’t actually seek out the missing crown, but rather the three magical hobo blacksmiths who can piece it back together. Each blacksmith has been hidden within the small fishing town that has emerged over the hallowed grounds of Camelfoot. It is up to Charlie to use all of the tricks and techniques of stacking that he learned in his original adventure to awaken the three artisans and name a new king.
If you have played the original adventure than you know exactly what to expect with this new short story; Double Fine hasn’t messed with the formula behind the game in any way. What the team has done is add a slew of new dolls, puzzles, and hijinksto the game in order to extend the short-lived charm established in Charlie’s first adventure. Each of the new dolls have their own special abilities which will help Charlie achieve his goal(s) and trigger new events in the town. I found the new additions to be a mixed bag of both forgettable additions as well as delightful additions. Some of the more memorable additions include a bucket-wielding salesman who loves to place wooden pales on people’s heads, an aspiring knight who gallops around town annoying the crap out of everyone, a real knight who’s jousting ability can shatter other dolls to pieces, and a young fisherman who will pull plenty of surprises out of the sea(s). All of these colorful character will be of use to Charlie both in his quest and his pursuit to partake in the new shenanigans offered in the game.
You are given a decent sized diorama to explore in the new chapter, set in a harbor / fishing village. The overall size is a bit larger than some of the individual environments from the main episode and it houses a variety of different areas. You will find yourself adventuring through the town marketplace, back alleys and piers, as well as a haunted, underground mausoleum, each with their own themed-inhabitants and interactive environments. As I explained earlier, your mission is to find three blacksmiths hidden throughout these settings and the populous of each area holds the key(s) to unlocking them. Some areas offer a little more variety than others, as well as more solutions, but they all contain the established Stacking-charm.
In true Stacking fashion, you will be required to “stack” into the different characters and use their individual abilities to trigger events in the environment to achieve your goal(s). With only three blacksmiths being your goal, the length of your adventure is incredibly short. I managed to complete the primary trip in less than 45 minutes, when playing straight through and not taking the time to uncover the various solutions and side goals included. Going back afterwards, I found myself spending a little more than double that amount of time collecting all of the various new doll sets and completing the new hijinks included with the added dolls. All in all though, I was completely done in just a few short hours.
It would have made much more sense to me if the adventure had required you to seek out the individual pieces of the crown as well. Breaking it up into three or four pieces could have easily double the length of the adventure and made it that much more worthwhile. I have a hard time recommending to anyone who isn’t an absolute diehard fan of the original because of its brevity. There are some simple design decisions that could have been made which would have really made this more of an adventure worth taking. If I were to judge it solely on the quality of the content, I would rate it as high as the original game... but if we are talking about quantity and quantity, it really falls short. What is here is really good, there just isn’t much here...
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Quality gameplay while it lasts, but this new chapter is over just as the charm begins to set in to the experience. Fans of the original game will surely enjoy The Lost Hobo King but find their selves back in a familiar place of “wanting more” very quickly. The extra chapter is a still a welcome addition and just as enjoyable as the full adventure but it just needs to be longer and that is what really holds it back.
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