Ashley Kronebusch, Staff Writer
Competitive, multiplayer puzzle games have a long and prestigious history, filled with classics like “Tetris” and “Puyo Puyo.” The blend of puzzle games, solo experiences and intense, fast-paced competition is almost always a recipe for success. Unfortunately, “Treasure Stack,” created by local developer and publisher PIXELLAKES, doesn’t quite stack up against its competition.
The core gameplay of “Treasure Stack” is matching colored treasure boxes which fall from the top of the screen with the keys of the same color. While this is far from unique, as most competitive puzzle games deal with blocks in some capacity, “Treasure Stack” differentiates itself by having the player control a character that moves these blocks around.
Unlike “Wario’s Woods,” the only other major game that does this, your character controls more like a platformer character with the ability to jump and continuously move across your rectangle of play. Your character can pick up and drop other blocks to create matches or use their grappling hook to bring blocks down from the sky. This core gameplay is quite satisfying, and it feels great to arrange your blocks and clear huge numbers of them at a time.
Multiplayer is where “Treasure Stack” really shines. Getting a few friends together and playing against each other feels great. Games are quick, usually about three to five minutes long and can get intense if you have skilled players facing off. For first-time players, a well made tutorial is given that can be played at any time, but it takes a while for newer players to get up to speed.
In addition, “Treasure Stacker” has surprisingly robust online capabilities, with options for private, casual or competitive matches. By far, what is most impressive about “Treasure Stacker” is that it offers cross-play between Switch, PC and Xbox One. Most big-budget video games don’t even offer this, so I was floored to find out that an indie company was able to achieve it.
The single-player content is where “Treasure Stack” falls horribly flat. There is no story mode, campaign or even the option to play against CPUs. If you don’t want to face another person, your only option is playing the game by yourself with nothing special attached over and over again. “Treasure Stack” has a huge number of characters and grappling hooks to unlock, and single-player is one way to access them, but there’s no reason to choose it over multiplayer. With the game costing $20, there is very little content for the amount that you are spending.
There is reason to have hope, however. When I first started playing, there were a lot more problems with the game: bad online matchmaking, restricting content unlocks to single-player and a frustrating implementation of demon blocks, blocks that appear in increasing numbers over a game and can only be destroyed by matching blocks next to them. Since then, all of these problems have been fixed. Unlocking content can now be done in any mode, the online matchmaking has been revamped and the demon blocks can be slowed down or turned off all together. While I was originally more skeptical and critical of this game, this shows that the developers are listening closely to player feedback and will likely implement more changes in the future.
Ultimately, I could only recommend “Treasure Stack” to people who are already fans of similar games or who are looking for a new party game to play with their friends and don’t mind the price. It won’t be the next “Tetris,” but it’s a perfectly serviceable game nonetheless.
This article was originally published in the April 26, 2019 issue.