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Playing With Dolls the Double Fine Way

Since its release, I’ve been waiting for an awesome reason to sign up for PSN’s Playstation Plus rewards program.  Thanks to Double Fine, I finally got my reason.  Stacking, the newest game from the creators of Psychonauts and Costume Quest, is currently being offered for free to Playstation Plus subscribers.  I partook of said subscription and got my hands on Stacking and I’m glad to say that Double Fine has another wonderful game.

Based on Russian stacking matryoshka dolls and set during the industrialist age, this game is an puzzle game with the massive amount of charm found in all of Double Fine’s games.  You play as Charlie Blackmore, the smallest doll in the Blackmore set, whose entire family has been kidnapped by the nefarious Baron.  Traveling to different locales such as a cruise ship and a zeppelin, you stack inside other dolls, obtaining special abilities for each one.  At each location, there are objectives to obtain that advance the story forward and hi-jinks you can perform with the various dolls’ abilities.

Honestly, just exploring each of the locations and interacting with all of the characters is what makes this game tons of fun.  If you really wanted to get through the game quickly, it wouldn’t take you very long at all, but there’s so much there fun to be had just messing around.  If you want to jump inside a giant doll with a boxing glove and punch a seagull, you can.  If you want to jump inside a kodiak bear doll and run around scaring the crap out of everyone, that is also an option.

The thing that really gives this game legs are all the little extras it manages to pack in.  Each area has three main goals you can work towards.  There are unique dolls, that have awesome abilities, that it keeps track of every time you hop into one.  Each world has a set number of these unique dolls and collecting them all is quite fun.  Also, there are tasks called hi-jinks that you can perform.  Basically, it just comes down to using the dolls in the area to cause mischief and these stats are kept track of as well.  Finally, each area has a number of objectives to complete before you can move on.  To make it more interesting however, they have made each objective able to be accomplished in a number of different ways.

All of these different things come together in the form of a secret room in the main location.  For each world you visit, there is a mural, paintings and doll collections.  What is displayed here depends on how many unique dolls you’ve used, places you’ve visited and objectives you’ve completed.  While it would have been nice to be able to jump inside your collected dolls, I can definitely appreciate the collection aspect of this game.

All in all, this game is a puzzle/adventure game with a whole lot of character and heart.  It’s hard not to fall in love with the world and its characters.  I definitely recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a good puzzle and anything Double Fine has made.  Buy this game, especially if you have a PS3, but remember to sign up for Playstation Plus because you get it for free and the subscription is only three dollars more than buying the game itself.  Stack away and enjoy!

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