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Stacking: Double Fine’s Tim Schafer and Lee Petty Play With Dolls

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As we played through the first levels of Stacking, Project Lead Lee Petty delighted in pointing out the tiny diorama-scale props that dot the game’s environments: marbles for lights, cigars for smokestacks, soda caps for stools. That sense of visual detail extends to the characters themselves, which are surprisingly detailed and expressive for being, you know, Russian dolls.

Why dolls? “We tried to condense the adventure game experience,” Petty explained, “so the dolls themselves are the characters, your inventory, and your abilities. You know that any given problem is going to be solved with dolls.” And these dolls just so happen to have powerful problem-solving abilities, whether it’s seducing a guard, plowing through a crowd, throwing a “proper uppercut,” or strategically using a bodily function. You play as Charlie, a tiny but plucky doll on a quest to save his kid brother from forced child labor at the hands of a dastardly industrial baron.

Stacking for PS3Stacking for PS3

To advance the story, Charlie must “stack” into other dolls to assume their appearance and control of their all-important special ability. Simply walking up to a doll’s exposed backside and pressing a button does the job. From there, problem solving takes over in the form of Challenges, whether it’s using a doll’s skill to empty a room or outrage a safety inspector. If you’d rather not stick to the script, Stacking also features sandbox side quests called “Hijynx” that reward you for wantonly experimenting with the various character abilities. “What we found was that a lot of people enjoy slapping,” Petty said, “so the Hyjinx provide some structure to that.” That means earning rewards for punching, slapping, or emitting foul odors at characters you meet in the game. “Bodily functions are a running gag in this game,” Petty promised. “We have all sorts of them.”

Stacking for PS3

While Challenges serve as the meat and potatoes of the gameplay in Stacking, your overarching goal is to collect complete sets of matching Russian dolls to advance the story and, ultimately, save Charlie’s family from the baron. A prime example comes early in the game at the Royal Train Station, with Charlie reuniting a traveling German family who got lost on their way to the Schnitzel Museum. The Royal Train Station has further significance in that it serves as the central hub for Stacking’s levels, including a “secret hideout” where Charlie stores the more than 100 collectible dolls hidden in the game.

The quirky and charming Stacking hits PSN on February 8th. What do you think of Double Fine’s latest PSN project? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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33 Comments

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  • Day 1 bought!!

  • Simply the most original game concept of the year! I have a couple Matryoshka’s from Russia myself.. they are cool, especially the Boris Yeltzin one.

  • This is brilliant. I remember seeing pictures of this on the blog some time back and it instantly rocketed to my #1 Position of most anticipated titles for 2011.

    Tim and his team at Double Fine always produce some of the most visually entertaining and whimsical experiences in the industry. I ALWAYS feel like a kid running through some of my favorite fantasies as if they’ve manifested my imagination directly into the TV!

    Bravo Lee, Tim and the rest of the DF team. I am most assuredly NOT allergic to fun!

    • Sid Shuman

      What’s more, Tim and Lee are super nice, super funny guys. We had a great time playing Stacking together!

  • Creative! I would like to see more about this. But so far it looks great!

  • @4 there’s an article in the most recent issue of game informer magazine and their website about the game too!

  • utopianacht

    lol.. schafer you rlz…

  • Not my type of game.

  • Costume Quest was one of my favorite games of 2010 so I’ll definitely buy this on day 1.

  • Hello Sid

    Can you guys consider making LBP2 Costumes for it or having PS Home rewards?
    Game looks great

  • Isn’t the 8th the same day as Explodemon and About A Blob? Who made the moronic decision to release those games on the same day, was it GC? Would have been better to space them out a bit.

  • PatriotEyez27

    Game looks interesting :D

  • Is there a set price yet? I’m guessing $15 like Costume Quest.

  • Even though this game is original and looks fantastic. This game doesn’t feel like a must have game. It doesn’t feel needed for gamers. I’ll pass.

  • This is game IS a must have if you want to encourage innovation and creativity in this industry. The art style and humor are top notch! Definite day 1 purchase!

  • BigBadLanTerN

    Looks really good. This will be a great way to get me away from all the combat oriented games.

  • I’m a Higglytown brave and true, I help the town with the things I do, help real hard and you will see, that you can be a hero just like me, a hero just like me.

  • looks boring
    i’ll pass

  • Looks awesome imo. I’m a huge Adventure game fan and this looks like a cool twist on that genre. The silent movie cutscenes are neat and the ablities that each russian doll have should be cool. Plus the graphics are VERY nice for a PSN game!

    Btw, how much will the game be? Also: will there be a demo?

    Costume Quest was a lot of fun and this looks like it will be too. I hope Double Fine keeps doing these really inventive games for the PSN.

  • MoneyMaker110

    is it weird i was surprised they showed ps3 footage when the trophy popped?

  • Love you Tim and the rest at the team! Great innovative game! Will buy day one!

  • Ah, Double Fine. A group that is so under appreciated by the mainstream gamers. Still enjoy me some Brutal Legend. This looks like a quirky good time.

  • This is definitely a very unique game. I will buy this for sure.

  • It’s exclusive, innovative games like this one that keep my Xbox collecting dust. Awesome job guys.

  • Awesome looking game, the russian dolls idea was ingenious! Looks like a blast to play and experiment with all the bodily funtions :D Definite buy for me!

  • What is this? Is it in my PSN checkout cart yet? Why not?

  • SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

    i.e. I want this now. :(

  • Airwalkinman17

    wow that looks/sounds really cool.
    so soon too. will have to give this a shot!
    thanks double fine!

  • Alman_Gadgets

    Loved CQ, and I’m pretty darn sure I’ll love Stacking as well. Definitely buying it.

  • Very cool stuff. I love adventure games.

  • @23 This isn’t a PSN Exclusive.

    @12 Pretty sure I saw somewhere that this will be $15. Game looks awesome but I never buy arcade games at $15. Just barely got costume quest now during the 11 for 11 sale. Very excitied to get into that one.

  • mustbehiggy

    Costume Quest was so awesome I’m buying this! It was very unique and fun just like this looks so yeah, day one right here =)

  • More proof of Tim Schafer’s innovative genius.

  • Would like to see SCE and Double Fine collaborating on a project in the future.

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