Double Fine's new downloadable puzzle game Stacking is drenched in style. Think about that word: "drenched." As if a game revolving around the secret lives of Russian matryoshka dolls weren't stylized enough, project lead Lee Petty has also elected to dress the whole thing up in retro Industrial Revolution chic. The doll thing and the retro thing are both so pronounced that either one could stand on its own; when taken together they constitute a stylistic soaking. And at first glance, it's a welcome one—the silent-film aesthetic, along with Peter McConnell's spritely, Shostakovich-tinged piano score, conjures an energy that is at once familiar and pleasant. The animation team's extraordinarily inventive work lends the characters a surprising degree of humanity despite their deliberately simplistic design. It's all just so charming.
The path to survival lies straight ahead. I cannot scale these walls, Sam Fisher-style, and wait for my pursuers to haplessly wander underneath. Nor can I dig a makeshift hidey-hole and wait for danger to pass. This is not Splinter Cell, this is not Minecraft; this is Pac-Man, and so the path to survival lies straight ahead.