Format: PC (tested)

Released: April 2018

I remember when I was a child playing the crane game in my local council as a child when my mum took me to pay the rent. You would pick up blocks and move them around to stack them on top of each other to move stacks of blocks from one platform to another. Stack and Crack (chortle) owes part of its base mechanics to that but takes its puzzle elements into a thoughtful and zen-like experience which will leave you head scratching but coming back for more.

a picture of stack and crack for pc
Working out how to collect everyone and still get home takes time and logic

Stack and Crack gives you a grid with several blocks on it which you need to move to an endpoint to clear the level. The catch is that each block can only move in certain directions. You’ll need to pre-plan┬áhow to catch certain blocks with others, stack them on top of each other and then progress to your goal. Where the game gets fiendish though, is that soon warp points and stack flippers come into play, so you may need to adjust the order of your stack of blocks and then manage to recollect them again to progress. It’s the devil in the detail that really makes Stack and Crack ascend into the great puzzle tier and because it’s not relying on random level generators, each puzzle feels like a logical and more difficult step forward – testing your brain in the process.

a picture of stack n crack for pc
You’ll be flipping, warping and dismantling your stack in no time

I really enjoyed the graphical aesthetic and the fact that whilst the blocks are coloured, their directional movements are easily displayed for the colour blind. The ambient music and the lack of a timer also means you can relax and really take your time to work through the later levels which is massively appreciated. Also appreciated is a simple hint system that gives you a clue of where to go next to solve something without giving the entire thing away.

Positives

  • Simple mechanics to grasp that constantly evolve for the better.
  • No timer and relaxed, clean music and graphics add to the experience
  • Handcrafted levels that have a good difficulty curve

Negatives

  • Puzzle veterans may speed through the first 2/3rds of the game as the mechanics change quickly before getting too complex.

Conclusion

Stack and Crack is a perfect example of a puzzle game that knows what it is, what it isn’t and places a proper level and game mechanic structure before a selling point of endless levels that really offer little to no challenge once you notice they aren’t that random after all. A great addition to the puzzle genre for a quick brain teaser when you have five minutes.

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A review copy was provided by the creator but all views and opinions are my very own.

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