Sunday, March 3

Review: Treasure Stack [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Coming into the action puzzle space with a new title has got to be a pretty intimidating situation. With a handful of iconic titles that pretty well have taken permanent residence at the top of the food chain an pretty well everything else falling away. Even with that challenge in mind the ambitious Treasure Stack is here to make a name for itself, backed up by a cross-platform launch to try to ensure a consistent matchmaking experience.

The biggest difference in how Treasure Stack is played is that rather than control the blocks themselves you control a small character who is moving around within the space. Capable of pulling the game’s differently-colored chests down with a grappling hook, picking them up, and moving them around, the style of play takes on some platforming elements on top of strict puzzling and that makes it feel quite different. Your goal is to try to arrange your chests in a way that keeps like colors touching so that when you manage to touch them with the appropriately-colored key they’ll open and remove themselves.

In order to add to the pressure a meter to the side will build and when it fills garbage blocks will get thrown into the mix as well, and these can only be cleared by being right next to chests being opened. In addition, power-ups like bombs, anvils, and swords will periodically appear which allow you to remove blocks in an immediate area, columns, and rows respectively. Playing solo can be pretty limited but will slowly unlock new characters and grapples, locally you’ll be able to take on up to 3 of your friends, and cross-platform online play will offer options to play in private, casual or ranked seasonal matches head to head. To incentivise working up the ranks special seasonal rewards are going to be given to top players.

There’s no doubt the game’s style manages to set itself apart from the competition but there are some issues to be aware of. Probably the most critical is that playing the game points out why this method of moving and taking care of the blocks indirectly doesn’t tend to be the direction people normally take. While it’s novel and can be fun to a degree it’s also cumbersome and often frustrating. Precision, especially when things are beginning to stack up on you and the pressure is on, is a major issue. Grabbing specific blocks and not the entire stack can be done with a jump and some hopes, but it’s inconsistent at best when the time comes. Your lack of mobility is also aggravating and even surprising. Finding yourself stuck even just 2 blocks down requires you to then pick up blocks to then put them down under yourself or essentially make stairs to get out. This kind of situation too often distracts you from the puzzling and seems unnecessary. The ability to wall jump or even just a double jump would greatly improve your mobility and keep things moving, the feeling that your movement is just a bit too limited to get through tough situations effectively can be plain aggravating. Finally, the Online experience leaves something to be desired, as you’ll choose your game type, wait, play your match, and then get dumped back into the main menu. It works but it all feels very bare bones.

In the end I appreciate what Treasure Stack has set out to do, and would even agree that many of the elements they’ve put together work well. However, it’s hard not to be frustrated by what seem to be self-inflicted wounds. Your character’s limitations in mobility and the lack of consistent precision when trying to pick up and place blocks in high-pressure situations are both aggravating and at least when it comes to mobility it simply doesn’t have to be the way it is. Throw in the laborious and pretty boring single-player experience required to unlock new random characters and grapples and an overall lack of polish and while the game certainly has merits it falls short of being a clear must-buy for puzzle fans.

Score: 6

  • A pretty unique style of play
  • Cross-platform support for multiplayer should hopefully mean consistent availability in lobbies
  • Special rewards for ambitious ranked online players is a great touch

  • Limitations on your character’s mobility and accuracy in grabbing and placing the blocks you want are both too often aggravating when things heat up
  • Unlocks being tied with the dull single-player experience is a mistake
  • There’s a general lack of polish in things like the Online experience with you being dropped back in the Main Menu after each match