Stacking • Page 2

The pile-high club.

Those are two of several solutions, and the spectrum of possibilities broadens further as Charlie uses the Royal Train to visit new locations. On board a cruise ship, for example, he must disrupt a deck-top safari, steal from an Egyptian exhibition, halt the caviar service and vandalise the map room, and each has various solutions ranging from the simple – using a deck cannon to pop a ball down a steam pipe – to the more elaborate and gratifying, like hijacking a family of dolls riding a four-tier Penny Farthing and employing it to shatter a cardboard zebra. Once a challenge is complete, it's reset so that you can try for other solutions.

In best LucasArts tradition, everything is a joke, and as well as a punchline you're often treated to a reward. A family of illusionists includes a dog who wipes his lower half across the carpet, and a father in a top hat who waves his wand to paint other dolls purple – and if you collect complete doll sets, like the Illusionist Family, you're rewarded with an amusing cut-scene.

2
Matched sets unlock cute animated rewards.

Elsewhere, an old gent slaps people with his white gloves and there's a bonus for tagging 10 distinct dolls. Startled dolls totter away from you leaving little mounds of sawdust in their wake, and some of the bumbling roars of old ladies and the "YAR"s of pirates are entertaining enough that you happily spend a minute or so simply hitting the action button to amuse yourself (or to torment other people in the room, obviously).

At first glance the world is merely stylised, but the miniature detailing is almost as much fun to explore as the puzzles are to solve: posters are stuck to the walls with drawing pins, the smokestacks are Havana cigars and the cruise ship decking is lollypop sticks. Everything is aged and autumnal, and the silent-era cut-scenes and dioramas are supported by merry piano, the screen tinged by flickering film reel.

Movement controls are a little clunky and the frame-rate occasionally complains about all the depth of field and soft focus, but these already feel like trifling concerns that would be quickly and willingly overlooked should they endure until next month's release. Like last Halloween's Costume Quest, Stacking advances the argument that some of the best games of the moment are being brought to life completely outside the high-street sales model, and it was no surprise to hear THQ's Danny Bilson recently describing the game as every bit as valuable to the publisher as any of its marquee releases. The best of times, then, and almost certainly worth adding to your download queue.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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