Living Doll: Stacking Is Out On PC

By Jim Rossignol on March 7th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

Me and my computer, yesterday.
Hello, you. I thought you’d like to know that Stacking is out on Steam. Stacking is Double Fine’s puzzley adventure based on nesting dolls. It’s proper lovely. There’s even “money off” until the 13th. But should you buy it? There’s no demo! Well I played a couple of hours of it on the console box, and it was okay – but don’t take my back-handed recommendation as your guide, instead, look into your heart, and if there is only a clown’s face in there, staring silently back at you, wait for Alec’s Wot I Think, which should turn up later this week.

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49 Comments »

  1. adonf says:

    Oh good. Given the love that Tim Schafer and Double Fine get here, I was surprised no one had mentioned this.

    • wisnoskij says:

      It was a very silent launch. The first notification I got, hours before anything else, was steam telling me that it was on sale.

      I have played a little on a friends console, it is a fantastic game.

  2. bear912 says:

    Definitely thinking of picking up the Double Fine Pack on Steam while it’s on sale. Not sure if I’ll get around to it, but it’s mighty tempting.

    The real question that the alt-text raises, though: which one is which?

    • hosndosn says:

      Double Fine Pack? Where is it? The link sends me to the frontpage.

    • adonf says:

      If I buy the pack, will I be able to gift the games I already own ? More people need to play Psychonauts.

    • HothMonster says:

      @adnof

      generally no. But it will tell you when you are purchasing, X game is already in your library…..will happen. But the rule of thumb is no you will not be able to give the game away.

      https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=4502-TPJL-2656

    • bear912 says:

      Huh. The link I posted works for me. I wonder if it’s a regional thing. I didn’t think the “snr=blahblahblah” thing was necessary.

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  3. Luke says:

    I think it looks quite creepy.
    But then that’s just because I find these dolls slightly unnerving.

    *shudder*

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      It’s horrible! You jump inside larger dolls and take full control of their faculties. Just think of a world where everyone lives in constant fear of a smaller person walking up behind them and body-jacking them.

    • clippa says:

      Like being Debbie McGee without the financial recompense

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      That made me cackle. Rest assured, Stacking is nowhere near as disturbing as that image.

  4. thelongshot says:

    Recently played through the PS3 version and thought it was a very good game. It was a better game than Costume Quest, and drips with theme and atmosphere. Well worth your money.

  5. tikey says:

    Bought it as soon as I saw it. It’s already downloaded and waiting for me at home.

    I can’t wait to get into it

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Tried to wait for the WIT but it looks too good to resist & I just finished Costume Quest.

  7. armaankhan says:

    Started playing this on my broski’s 360 and stopped when I heard that a PC version was coming out, in anticipation of this day. It is a fun and amazing adventure, oozing style and atmosphere. Shouldn’t be missed.

  8. hosndosn says:

    Double Fine showing a lot of PC love, recently. I wonder if that Dragon-logo investment firm had anything to do with financing the port or whether the Kickstarter adventures gave them confidence.

    • TNG says:

      Steven Dengler’s Dracogen Strategic Investments funded Psychonauts port to Mac as well as Costume Quest, and now Stacking, port to PC; all that was scheduled and announced way before the Kickstarter project.

  9. Untruth says:

    It’s brilliant. The puzzles are sometimes a bit too obtuse (hello, Tim), and forget the old adage of “if you understand the mechanics, you should understand the puzzles” (another Tim special), but that’s sort of what makes it quite a pleasure – you DO end up leaving it for another day, but when you come back it’s such a joy to hunt for different puzzles and solutions.

    Because of this, I still haven’t completed the Xbox version after a long time of dipping in and out for a few hours. But, each time I do, I love it. So much beautiful art, such brilliant tactile controls and a lovely story.

    GET IT>!

    • webwielder says:

      Around the time DoubleFine kicked off their Kickstarter, the guy behind Twisted Metal and God of War said that games shouldn’t focus on story. Leave story to the movies and focus on gameplay for games. His comments had nothing to do with DoubleFine’s adventures in financing, but I thought they were quite relevant to Tim Schafer. Schafer creates rich, wonderful, weird worlds, but the actual mechanics of his games tend to suck pretty hard. When we fondly reminisce on Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, etc. it’s not the gameplay we’re extolling. In fact, whether it’s obtuse, borderline incomprehensible puzzles or second rate platforming, Schafer’s games could be said to be a chore to actually play. So I wonder if Twisted Metal guy’s comments are quite applicable to Schafer. Maybe Tim and his team should focus on movies and other non-interactive media. All the charm, none of the frustration.

    • Thirith says:

      @webwielder: I see the point to some extent, but I disagree with it. Most if not all of Schafer’s games could do with better gameplay – but I relate differently to Manny Calavera or Raz *because I play them*, and as a result I relate differently to the story being told. Turn Grim Fandango or Psychonauts into movies and I’m an outside observer – I’ll still enjoy the writing, stories and characters, but I won’t in any way feel that I’m a participant in the story, which is a large part of the appeal.

    • B1A4 says:

      @webwielder – Second rate platforming? Yes, it could be better (everything could be better), but I really like it. What is first rate platforming? Some examples would be great, thank you.

    • webwielder says:

      Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario Galaxy are first-rate platformers.

    • Acorino says:

      @webwielder:
      Psychonauts is one of the best platformers I ever played. Thing is though that the PC is rarely graced with the presence of good examples of the genre. Rayman 2 is the only other 3D platformer I really liked. Never played its sequel, but most of its other genre brethren I played (Tonic Trouble, Evil Twin, Croc,…) were pretty much broken messes.
      Yes, Psychonauts could be better gameplaywise in some regards. But then, what couldn’t be? I can’t say how much the new balancing makes the later areas more bearable because I didn’t play the Steam version (it’s much more buggy!), but the Asylum made me want to take a bite out of my keyboard.
      Those damn rats! Those damn thin ledges and this damn long fall downwards! There’s this damn climbable grid from which Raz will always jump off forwards but inexplicably never sideways. If you try nevertheless you will fall down…again. And there’s this damn long ladder in the Meat Circus you had to climb up after your psychotic father tried to kill you. You could only climb from one side and I always tried to jump around because it bended in this angle that made it seem like Raz would fall off if he continued to climb this way. He always stopped in his tracks at a certain angle, so that seemed like a clue to climb further on the other side of the ladder . What you actually have to do is not jump/float around but simply make a little jump again so that he continues to climb………………..AAARGH!!!
      But apart from the cruel end sections I think the platforming is really well done, I enjoyed it a lot. Also, the camera controls work really well. Compare that to Rayman 2 which sometimes doesn’t show you the areas you want to jump to. The same, to a lesser extent, is true for PoP: Sands of Time.

      I would agree that Grim Fandango wasn’t a particular good adventure game, but I think Psychonauts is a great platformer. Also, I like it that Tim Schafer manages to craft “real” games that also tell a good story, while making much use of the unique ability of the medium: interactivity. The story isn’t merely dumped into the cutscenes, you truly experience it while playing. I think Tim is pretty great at using games as a narrative medium.

      I guess if you would say that Prince of Persia: SoT and Rayman 2 aren’t first-rate platformers, then I might be able to agree with you that Psychonauts isn’t either simply because I apparently haven’t played any first-rate ones then. I just wonder, when people criticize the gameplay of Psychonauts, what they’re comparing it to.

    • Urthman says:

      When we fondly reminisce on Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, etc. it’s not the gameplay we’re extolling.

      I absolutely extoll the gameplay of Psychonauts. Banjo-Kazooie is a fantastic game, but Psychonauts is at least as good. It’s more fluid and fun to move around the world. Banjo-Kazooie has more verbs, but Psychonauts’ verbs are better and more fun to use. Psychonauts gives you better control of the camera. I think Psychonauts edges out B-K in level design and variety of gameplay.

      Mario Galaxy might be a better platforming game, but Psychonauts did the gravity-is-relative on a small planet first.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      First of all, I agree with some of these people. I think Psychonauts was a wonderful platformer, and I’ve played it again recently just to make sure – I still think so. Those mechanics hold up. I also enjoyed Brutal Legend once I got over the game’s slightly botched attempts to teach you how to play. I think Tim Schafer receives more flak than he deserves for the gameplay in his games.

      Secondly, Stacking isn’t Tim’s game. It was designed by someone else in double fine. Tim maybe wrote some of the dialogue, offered advice here and there, but he should neither get all the credit for what it does well nor all the blame for stuff it doesn’t do so well.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      @webwielder; it’s an interesting thought, but no. A thousand times no.

      The thing with adventure games is that they have to merge story and gameplay in a way that other genres have yet to discover even exists. When someone like Schafer, Gilbert etc. make a game they create the story and the puzzles (gameplay) simultaneously. Sure, they can nudge in a good puzzle with some McGyvering, but ultimately it has to “fit” and likewise for the story.

      You don’t seem to understand that FRUSTRATION = GOOD. At least, a good kind of frustration is. When I can’t solve a (good) puzzle, that’s the best thing an adventure game has to offer, because (unless you’ve let yourself down by looking the solution up on the internet) that’s when the game throws something at you which you’ve yet to master. If you don’t like a challenge, don’t play AGs. One of the saddest developments in videogaming was the time some years ago when developers decided people didn’t want to be challenged in mind-bending ways, and adventure games had to be made “accessible” (meaning essentially no puzzle should be hard and no puzzle should halt the player’s progress anywhere in the game).

      When we fondly reminisce on Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, etc. it’s not the gameplay we’re extolling. In fact, whether it’s obtuse, borderline incomprehensible puzzles or second rate platforming, Schafer’s games could be said to be a chore to actually play.

      When I fondly re-play GF or Psychonauts it’s *precisely* the GAMEPLAY that does it for me. Puzzles, exploration and dialogue are all natural extensions of the gameplay. If these things feel like chores to you then why bother?

      In fact, putting aside the complete shock and misplaced sense of betrayal people felt when they discovered Grim Fandango was to be played WASD, there’s literally not a single moment in the entire game that feels like a chore. It has one or two trial-and-error puzzles which will take about 15 minutes to ‘solve’, but I’m really having a hard time believing you played these games yourself rather than repeating what someone else wrote about them. Put simply, if Grim Fandango feels like a chore to play, then you’re either doing it wrong or it’s not for you.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      @Contrafibularity

      So true. I think people assume that because with adventure games the story is sort of the main event, and I guess to an extent the world building and story is the main thing about Psychonauts, they don’t have anything to offer gameplay wise, and it’s just not true.

      I love the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, and to get that satisfaction fully, there has to be at least a short period where I’m stuck, the pieces haven’t clicked into place yet. I like Tim Schafer’s anecdote about QA for Psychonauts saying the paintings in the Black Velvet level weren’t working. When he asked why, they said: well, there was a while when they were just stuck, but eventually they figured out what to do.

      That’s gameplay, folks! We celebrate that sort of thing in Portal, and Braid, and adventure games (and even platformers!) can have it too. True, adventure games have been guilty of some puzzle crimes, too (one of the reasons why I find The Longest Journey massively overrated) but that’s no reason to write the whole genre off, gameplay-wise.

      Yes, when I remember Grim Fandango, I remember the excellent world and its characters and the story it tells. But I also remember how fun it could be to figure my way through the game.

  10. MonkeyMonster says:

    already sent steam the greens, love the jazzed up version of jeeves and wooster soundtrack on the vid.

  11. Khemm says:

    Saw it pop up unexpectedly on Steam yesterday evening. 10 euro, quickly checked Gamersgate to check if they carry DFine’s games, unfortunately they don’t… Said screw it and bought on Steam, still downloading it.

  12. Gnoupi says:

    “instead, look into your heart, and if there is only a clown’s face in there, staring silently back at you”

    Oh good, I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyway.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Also, it’s that clown from Broken Sword, who’s actually an assassin carrying a bomb in his accordion.

    • Bluerps says:

      That creeped me out too…

  13. Theoban says:

    Doesn’t seem particularly complex, just a case of pressing q/e on everything and hopping in every doll, but who cares when it’s got such charm. I was squealing with joy all the way through my first hour in this.

  14. Unaco says:

    Might have been interested a year ago, when it originally came out. But if they care about the PC so little it takes more than a year for them to release it on the PC, then I’m not going to invest too much interest in them.

  15. Oozo says:

    Rarely did a game that should have been so right up my alley turn out to be so very much in another part of town altogether.

    But while it was too repetitive and on-the-nose in a lot of ways for my taste, I still would recommend it to anybody who’s taken a liking to the screenshots: The artwork comes from a place where all the walls are plastered with love, and this alone can make the game worth playing indeed. (Just don’t expect too much from the puzzles. Edit: It pretty much comes down to what webwielder wrote just above there: it’s one more example of a lovely game world with a game in it that could be better.)

    Or even better yet: Ignore grumpy ol’ me and give it a try, love conquers all anyway etc.

  16. magnus says:

    I’m having a lot of fun with this!

  17. Calabi says:

    I bought it straight away. I’m having fun with it, mostly been belching and screaming and farting all over the place.

    • brulleks says:

      But what’s the game like?

    • RedViv says:

      You solve puzzles with just what Calabi mentioned. You stack your tiniest doll into as many others as you need to get a special ability, which then helps you fulfil whatever your current aim is. Need to get rid of a guard? Seduce him with a sexy widow lady, fart at him so he falls over, or just straight punch him with a big boxer gentleman.
      The game is rather easy to get through, but getting all the solutions is tricky.

  18. RedViv says:

    Still waiting for Iron Brigade. Lacking a MS console, that’s the only Double Fine game I have not played yet. And it’s the one that was quite made for me.

  19. sysinfo says:

    So… it’s a little like the concept behind Shiny’s Messiah (Remember that game? No?) except with better puzzles,much less shooting, and it’s from Double Fine? And you say that I can pick it up in a three-pack for a reasonable price? Where did that $20 in my pocket get to, anyway?

    • Unaco says:

      Remember that game? No?

      Yes! I remember it. Great concept, ultimately flawed.

  20. InternetBatman says:

    Yet another silent launch from Doublefine. You’d think they’d realize that if you build up anticipation for your game, maybe by just sending four funny emails to the game sites before it’s released, that they’d get more sales. Someone like Tim Schaefer, who kick up as much interest as he did recently, should not have a silent PC launch.

  21. Foosnark says:

    It’s cute and quirky. There’s a little too much cutscene for my liking, but still fun.

    The problem I have with it? Motion sickness. :( I’ve only solved the first challenge (and wandered around a bit) and had to quit because I’m going to fall over and/or throw up. It’s not as bad as vehicle segments in HL2 without the FOV tweak, but ugh.

  22. Okama Gabesphere says:

    I received Stacking via PSPlus. It had a nice art style/atmosphere, a really generic story and the gameplay was very contrived. I wouldn’t jump the gun on the DoubleFine pack just because of this game as it’ll probably be like 8 bucks during a later sale.

    Just my take.