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All dolled up with Double Fine’s ‘Stacking’

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Stacking - Double Fine

You know those little Russian dolls that decrease in size and nest inside one another? Fun fact: they're called "matryoshka dolls," which is a bit of a mouthful. What's arguably more important than knowing the dolls' official name, though, is knowing that THQ and Double Fine Productions are making a game about them.

Double Fine — the studio founded by former LucasArts adventure-game maestro Tim Schafer — is offering Stacking, an endearingly quirky puzzler centered around the premise that all of the characters in its world are Russian dolls. Some are larger, and some are smaller, and the smaller ones fit into the larger ones. You take control
of one such doll -- a lowly chimney sweep on a quest to rescue his family from
indentured service. You're one of the smallest dolls around, but this is to your advantage as it allows you to leap into the bodies of larger dolls and control them, using their unique powers to advance your cause. When tasked with luring a
guard away from a gate, for instance, you might leap into the body of a
flirtatious dancer and do a little sashay to draw his eye.

The game's puzzles -- which feature multiple solutions based
on the different doll abilities and can be replayed for variety's sake -- are
set in a world whose retro, quasi-Victorian style is almost as noteworthy as
the gameplay itself. Schafer (known for humorous, offbeat titles like 2005's Psychonauts and 2009's Brutal Legend) and Stacking's Project Lead Lee Petty have seen to it that no expense has been spared in bringing old-world charm and fin-de-siecle chic to the
proceedings. From the quaint musical score (which interweaves classic composers like Chopin with original compositions) to the black-and-white, silent-movie cutscenes, Stacking looks like it'll be almost as much fun to watch and listen to as to play.

Set for an early February release, Stacking will be available as a download for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

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