Stacking Preview - XBLA/PSN

Stacking Preview - XBLA/PSN
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A Nesting Doll Adventure - Stacking Preview

If a developer would have pitched an idea for an adventure game revolving around a wandering Russian nesting doll who’s trying to find his lost family – featuring over two hours of silent film-inspired cutscenes – it would probably be hard to really take the entire premise seriously. Thankfully, video game critics as well as gamers are a bit more open-minded these days, so offbeat ideas like the aforementioned are actually something to look forward to.

Double Fine Productions, known for games such as Psychonauts and Costume Quest, is currently working on Stacking, a puzzle adventure set many years in the past. You play as a tiny matryoshka doll named Charlie whose family has been abducted by the sinister Baron. You must guide Charlie through the game and enter the bodies of other, larger dolls (as these toys do) in order to progress through levels and solve puzzles.

Matryoshka Doll Gameplay

You can take control of many different types of dolls, each with their own abilities.

Stacking is inspired by old-school adventure games, but Double Fine Productions is taking a unique approach at this classic genre by allowing you to take the game’s protagonist and possessing other dolls. You start out by jumping into a doll that’s exactly one size bigger than Charlie. From there, you can possess another doll if it is one size larger than that one, and so on. Each doll has a special ability, and you must utilize these abilities in order to solve the game’s varied puzzles.

If you need to clear out a room, for example, you can use a specific doll’s flatulence to your advantage. Is a useful object damaged? Perhaps you can jump into a doll that’s technically and mechanically sound. There are various abilities exclusive to the many dolls in the game, and playing around with each one is half the fun. It’s interesting finding different solutions for puzzles, and having so many dolls with varying strengths to choose from makes the game stand out among the adventure games of old.

Stacking isn’t just a straightforward no-nonsense affair, though. There are a number of optional sidequests that you can engage in to keep yourself occupied. Possessing other dolls isn’t just useful for solving puzzles; jump into another doll’s body and you’ll get to learn some interesting tidbits about it. You can even possess entire sets of the little Russian toys to unlock bonuses. It’s nothing major, but it’s certainly something for completists to sink their teeth into.


The themes in the game are inspired by Victorian era art and design.

Like the dolls themselves, the visual presentation of Stacking is inspired by art from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s quaint, fashionably classic, and pretty charming. Hues are subdued and are in no way bold, and they give the game a nice antique look. In terms of sound, nothing is overly complex, and cutscenes have a stylized silent film vibe.

Stacking Preview - Play with Dolls in Early 2011

The folks over at Double Fine Productions are at it again with yet another unique title. You can expect Stacking to launch sometime during the first half of 2011 on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Watch out for it. Oh, and for those of you who think you’re too old to play with dolls, get over yourselves!