Sometimes you don’t need a 500 MB game with high-end graphics, 30-hour story and 500 collectible items. Sometimes you just need a game that you can fire up and play while waiting for the lecturer to arrive. Although I am not a fan of endless games that provide very little replay value, Stack, by Ketchapp, is so simple and such a joy to look at that I might have to make an exception.
Stack uses Google Play Games for synchronization of high scores. You know the drill: choose an account and Google will do its magic. There is no tutorial in the game, so you will be thrown directly into the action.
It is totally understandable that the developer hasn’t bothered with giving the user a single line of information regarding how to play their game. This is because the concept is so amusingly simple that even Patrick Star would be able to figure it out in ten seconds.
You control a diagonal-moving block. Your mission is to stop it exactly on top of the previous block. This is done by tapping in absolutely any spot of the screen. There’s almost no delay between your tap and the block stopping, so you have to time it right.
If you do it, then you’re awesome and will get another block exactly the same size. If you fail to do it, the part that is left outside of the underlying block will be chopped off and disappear, and the next block you get will be smaller.
If you keep failing to stop the block exactly on top of the previous one, your brick will get smaller and smaller, making the game progressively harder. Also, the movement of each piece will get faster with each block you land successfully, even if it wasn’t spot on.
Each time you lose a piece of your brick you start to feel more tense since you see the end of the game on the horizon. There’s always a way of salvaging your session though. If you chain a lot of perfect landings in a row (approximately seven), your block will get a bit bigger. This way you can rectify errors from the past.
Since the game is extremely responsive, you feel absolutely in charge of your victory or demise. Even though this is good, this also means that a small mistake can crush your hopes of surpassing your high score.
Talking about high score, you get one diamond-shaped thing every time you stack ten blocks successfully. This diamonds can be used to unlock new patterns for the blocks. Unfortunately, you can’t choose which ones to unlock.
When you reach 200 diamonds, the game unlocks a pattern for you. There are 30 different patterns to choose from, so better start working on that if you want them all.
After some sessions, the game will offer you the chance of getting 20 diamonds for free by watching a video ad. After the 30-second commercial, you get your 20 diamonds and everyone walks away happily.
Stack incorporates very simplistic and clean graphics. Colors change slightly with each passing block. It is so subtle that you won’t notice you start with yellow and end up with black, or something like that. The background also changes accordingly, giving it consistency.
I found that the designs you have to unlock can be a detriment to your aspirations of getting a high score, though. Since you need to be precise in order to stack as many blocks as possible, having a pattern on the blocks you are trying to align can obstruct your intentions. Your mileage may vary, though.
There’s no music in the game, just sound effects. When you stack blocks correctly, you will hear a sharp noise that keeps getting more high-pitched as you stack more blocks. When you fail, you will hear a piece of wood being chopped off. They don’t change even if the pattern changes, so you better like them.
Stack focuses on relaxation rather than replay value or story and provides an endless game with very simple mechanics, but that can get quite addicting. To cater to the competitor in all of us, it records our high score and lets us compare it with people online, as well as providing diamonds to unlock new patterns.
However, there’s very little variation to the game from the first day you download it, so if you are looking for a game with progression elements, story, or replay value, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. If you want a lightweight game that you want to play in short bursts or while waiting in line, then Stack is a simple game with beautiful graphics that can get very addictive.