Stacking Microreview

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Stacking Microreview – 16/20!

Stacking is a casual adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Double Fine Productions.

The player controls, Charlie Blackmore, the smallest doll in a family of matryoshka dolls who have fallen into misfortune after their father agrees to work for an evil industrialist known as the Baron. Charlie’s size enables him to stack and unstack into larger dolls to use their unique abilities to solve puzzles and allow him to free his older siblings from the Baron’s control. Each puzzle has multiple solutions and some include additional puzzles and challenges that allow the player to explore outside of the main story.

I found this game to be charming with its vintage aesthetic and unique concept of using the stacking matryoshka dolls with different traits and abilities to progress the story. Now I am a gaming optimist and I try to see the good in all games. I understand that each game is someone(s) time and effort, their pride and joy and therefore I take great care when judging them. That being said, I had to mark this game down one point in each category (fun factor, game play, sound and visual style) because it just wasn’t quite there.

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The Cave Microreview

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The Cave Microreview – 19/20!

The cognizant Cave, voiced by Stephen Stanton, is a magical labyrinthine of tunnels that lures individuals within to explore their darker personalities. Seven unique strangers, each harboring their own dark secret, have been drawn to the Cave from across time and space to learn the truth about themselves and gain insight of who they may become.

The player initially selects three different characters from a cast of seven stereotypical figures to explore the Cave: The Adventurer, the Hillbilly, the Knight, the Monk, the Scientist, the Time-traveller, and the Twins (acting as one character). Once chosen, these three characters will be your explorers for the remainder of the game; players can restart a new game to select a different trio of characters.

The majority of this game’s puzzles require the three characters to work in coordination to complete, the player switching between them to activate multiple parts of a puzzle; an example of this would be opening a door by maneuvering two characters into holding levers, while the third character passes through the open door to pull another lever, permanently opening the door and allowing the other characters to pass through. Each character also has a unique ability to aid in navigating the cave tunnels; for example, the adventurer is able to swing herself across gaps with a rope, while the time traveller can phase shift a short distance to pass through barriers. Some puzzles are specific to the unique abilities of a character, leaving some areas inaccessible if the appropriate characters aren’t chosen at the start; the Cave can only be fully explored through at least three replays, if not more.

In addition, some areas of the Cave are accessible only if one a specific characters is in your party; such as the knight finding a castle or the adventurer discovering a tomb, these areas represent the deep desires and dark aspects of a character that lured him or her to the Cave in the first place. Throughout the game there there are iconographs emblazoned on the walls of the cave for each of the three characters, which the player will need to get near to activate; these provide one of several still art images that reveal the character’s (usually morbid) back-story.

The Cave is witty and quite fun to play through at least once, if not more. The first time I played, I selected the Adventurer, the Knight and the Time-traveller and I couldn’t have asked for a greater combination. Their storylines were morbid, yet entertaining and between their unique abilities, I was able to explore a great deal of the Cave’s tunnels. I did start over with three new characters, but I soon realized a great deal of the cave was redundant and I had no true desire to replay the whole game again just to discover other characters’ backstories.

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Broken Age Microreview

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Broken Age Microreview – 20/20!

Beautiful aesthetics and a very fun point-and-click adventure! I could only imagine the frustration players must have felt if the played Act 1 and waited in agony for over a year for Act II!

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