All of this is encompassed in a beautifully designed and detailed world that has the physical appearance of a child’s homemade diorama. The planks at the seaboard are made of matchsticks and what would normally be a colossal crane in the real world is a small fishing pole. It appears as though everything in the world has been crafted, albeit delicately and ingeniously, by the hands of a child. The same attention to detail can be said of each of the dolls that you will encounter in the world. All of them are intricately painted with a serious attention to detail and filled with their own, unique personality. Not only are they visually intriguing but they all seem to have a life of their own and the world will hustle and bustle around you at all times. The world feels alive and encompassing in its own right, aside from the tasks at hand and what was crafted simply to drive the story.
If anything could be considered a flaw in Stacking it would have to be its length. The main story of the game can be completed in literally a matter of two to three hours; the game was designed with the hope that you would spend additional time exploring the alternate solutions to the puzzles and finding all of the unique dolls, but the game never really pushes your to accomplish either of those goals. Many players will likely play through the story driven portion of the game and look back with regret that it was over and done with so quickly. Double Fine leaves it up to you, the gamer, to seek out and “get” more from the game, which is a bold move considering the short attention span of today’s gamer. Technically speaking, I did experience some brief stuttering in the animations of the PlayStation Network version of the game that I played. There were brief moments of lock-up when moving from one place to another, such as within the various areas of the initial train station. It isn’t anything that would cripple the experience, but the game just seemed to hang on itself every once in a while.
Stacking is one of the most enjoyable games that I have played in years and also one of the shortest. I find myself looking back at the experience as if it were more of a proof of concept than a full game and am in a position where I am craving more. Double Fine did a phenomenal job of crafting a unique and entertaining world but in the end, it felt more like a tease than anything else. There is a lot to do but most of it is done by your own volition. Double Fine doesn't force you to complete all of the activities that the game has to offer and puts faith that the strength of the experience will drive players to do them on their own. I found going back to find alternate solutions to puzzles more enjoyable and rewarding than solving the initial ones. The Stacking world is filled with so much life and energy that just being a part of it is as enjoyable as playing the game and accomplishing the goals. I want more of this world, and hopefully the developers will bring us more adventures from it in the future.
Stacking is a brilliant albeit extremely short game. The world that Double Fine has crafted is both intriguing and humorous and stays with you long after turning it off. The price is a little steap considering the brevity of the experience, but you will definitely be glad that you played through it if you do.
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