It’s Tetris, with grapple-based platforming, and no, it doesn’t work very well at all. I’m not usually one to scoff at developers attempting to unify two concepts to put their own spin on it, but here, it just fails to add up. Treasure Stack is simple by design. It’s been crafted in such a way that you can come by it, slam some play time in, and then return as and when you feel like doing so. There’s no story present whatsoever, and instead, a suite of modes rest within to give you varying ways to take to its, frankly, dull and tedious formula.
Booting up the game will offer you the choice of solo play, local play, and online play. Outside of that, you’ll have the ability of unlocking new playable characters and new grappling hooks. Other than the game’s rather strict difficulty curve, there’s little much to discuss in regards to its depth. Now, as aforementioned, Treasure Stack is a Tetris-esque game within the added element of light platforming. The game takes place in a quirky Medieval setting, grouped together with a soundtrack that attempts to instill that design.
There’s a short tutorial to lean upon, and it’s here in which you’ll learn of the game’s basic structure; controls, how-to, and so forth. The crux of play is straightforward enough to understand from the off. Players control a grappling-hook equipped character to the lower of the tower, and using said hook, players will pull down slow moving blocks from the top of the tower. These falling blocks are mostly served up as treasure chests that vary in color, and the only way to clear these blocks is to match them with a key block of equal color.
Once you have a match, the blocks will be removed from the board. Sounds simple, right? Well, the game makes a habit of throwing a spanner in the works. Unlike Tetris, you’re unable to rotate the blocks as they drop. In Treasure Stack, this all falls down to your character. You’ll need to run all over the place as you pick up blocks and position them to line them up with falling blocks of equal color. There’s a few kickers to be mindful of, such as demon blocks that are frequently spawned and create a row that covers all your blocks.
These can indeed be neutralized via destroying a nearby chest block, but later in, the frequency of these spawns becomes overly annoying. It’s a neat twist, I’ll admit, but once blocks start picking up speed and demon blocks become more constant and consistent, it all gets a bit too much. What starts out as a nice idea, soon spirals into the realm of headache inducing. There’s just far too much demand for multitasking, which kind of goes against the simple yet challenging nature that this game’s inspiration has maintained for decades now.
I don’t doubt that fans of the concept will likely find value here, but even so, there’s a level of frustration within that comes with it by default. Much to be expected, and like any falling block game, if the tower becomes overrun with blocks, it’s game-over. There’s minor alleviation to be found in the game’s helpful blocks, such as the sword block, the anvil block, and the bomb block. Despite that they offer unique ways to clear masses of blocks through smashing, crushing, and exploding them, they don’t quite soothe the tedious nature of play.
That is pretty much the sum of the game’s depth. Longevity can be found in the various modes. Solo and local play are fairly self explanatory and do not exceed expectation, pertaining to much of the above. The online mode, on the other hand, has three different options to select from. The first is private match, in which you’re able to invite your buddies for a one-on-one session. The same rules apply, but as you destroy your own blocks, you’ll increase the speed of your opposition’s blocks, as well as the spawn rate of demon blocks.
The other two options offer up a standard online serving, and a mode that features season-based ranking with unique rewards. Treasure Stack aims to be the next best block dropper, and does come with cross-platform play to ensure that it has the greatest chance at thriving with a shared online community. I personally don’t see it standing the tests of time. It’s a shame really, because with a bit more gameplay variation and a better difficulty curve, it could have been much more than what it is. However, as it stands, it’s merely just sub-par.
I say that as a fan of falling block games, and as a fan of platforming in most forms. This all feels too strongly focused on followers of its framework. The game’s difficulty takes a harsh spike after just a few minutes, greatly hurting the flow as a result. The sheer madness and rising pace that ensues was more than enough to have me reaching for the power button. Furthermore, due to the lack of depth, there’s very little to keep you engaged in the long-run. It all loses traction from there on out, and gives little to no reason for a return trip.
With that in mind, Treasure Stack does (thanks to cross-play) aim to give you the tools to play the game alongside others, however you want. Whereas private matches allow you to invite a buddy to play, the game’s casual matches adds players from all of its supporting platforms with random matchmaking systems in place. Ranked matches, however, works in a similar fashion, but the matchmaking system here ensures that you’re put up against someone of similar skill. It’s a simple but effective system in the grand scheme of things.
I suppose the prospect of unlocking the game’s cosmetic additions will appeal to some, and if that’s enough to entice you, you’ll be glad to learn that there’s plenty to work for. This will no doubt serve well for those that want to show off their unlocks in the online arena as they run, jump, climb, and grapple in the suit of their favorite skin. Just don’t expect much else to soak up across its solo and multiplayer components, or at least as far as its mechanics are concerned. That is, if you can stomach the game’s irritations long enough to see that.
To the game’s credit, it does have a decent art style about it. There’s some nice details running through the game and some solid variation as far as its color palette is concerned. I can extend the same appreciation to the audio; dishing a suitable upbeat soundtrack to hold everything together. I only wish the game’s more meaningful aspects were quite as refined and as likable. The bottom line in all of this is that although it’s accessible, has a few modes going for it, and caters for a wide player pool, it’s just not really good where it matters most.
Treasure Stack attempts to stand out on the basis of its concept mashup, but fails miserably to do so. The game’s difficulty curve is far too steep after even just a few minutes, with the overall product further hindered by its tedious structure and its lack of depth and refinement. Fans of block droppers that want a competitive online experience will no doubt find some value here, but I would caution against getting your hopes up.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.