Treasure Stack by PIXELAKES LLC
From PIXELAKES LLC comes the ready-to-please-all competitive puzzle-platformer Treasure Stack, available for Switch, Xbox One and Steam.
It should come as no surprise that I have heard examples about why Tetris is the greatest and highest-selling video game of all time in so many books about game design, hit-makers and irresistibility that I have lost count.
Though I was a big fan of Lumines and other on-the-fly match-making, block-stacking games, the original Tetris had the perfect moment-by-moment balance of risk management that made it the ultimate meditation. Every iteration thereafter that somehow tried to add quality of life enhancements or competitive advantages or whatever else merely diluted the fundamental perfection of the original.
What is often missed about Tetris – though I am sure it wasn’t lost on the developers – is that its simplicity was hardly a matter of minimalism but rather of distilling it to the most refined version of the play. Every new addition adds complexity that takes away that deceptive, just-within-reach nuance.
Tetris: The Sequel?
35 years later, developers and publishers are still chasing after that magic. And thus we arrive at Treasure Stack: another hybrid RPG/tetromino/Match 3 mashup that endeavors to improve on the rules, add some new mechanics, and cash in – in this case, quite literally – on chests of gold.
Between “frantic 4-player multiplayer” and a series of switch-ups, combos, keys, explosives and twitchy platformer skills, Treasure Stack is ready to please one and all. It is evident that the game was designed to appeal to the eSports generation with every mode of competitive combat, including Season mode.
Rather than merely content with falling blocks, you will use a grappling hook to capture your targets and drag them down into various configurations, doing just-in-time swap-outs, matching colored keys to their corresponding treasure chests, timing out cluster bombs and other techniques to manage your space.
Slick as it appears, (think Towerfall), the game is complicated and stacked (pun intended) with so many rules and conditions that all the fundamentals of the original Tetris are lost.
Blocked and Frustrated
Some may find this game rich in mechanics and activities – it offers solo play, local and online multiplayer and co-op. It has more methods for grabbing high scores than I care to count. But I found everything from the main menu to maneuvering tedious to a fault.
Using a gamepad felt more natural to the design, but even so, this game is like the Race for the Galaxy equivalent of Candy Crush.
For retro gaming enthusiasts not using a gamepad, it even features old school keyboard controls like Z and X for activations and jumping and WASD to manoeuvre. But the nature of the gameplay makes such a keyboard and mouse control scheme essentially unplayable.
Ironically, the “box-art” teases with “easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master.” The problem is the ramp up is at an 80-degree angle and the reward at the top is broccoli.
Perhaps Treasure Stack will appeal to couch multi-players, but I came away frustrated – nowhere close to the trance that Tetris, the still-crowning champ, or something like Puzzle Quest ever managed to induce in me and countless others.
Perhaps if the various mechanics and moves were introduced in a better way, the game would scale to the level that some might find entertaining, but as it is, I see nothing to spend my time with.
That is just me, and I found Into the Breach kind of flawed, so please take it with a grain of salt.
Check out the trailer for Treasure Stack below: