Puzzle games have been hitting a resurgence as of late. Lumines was remastered on PC and consoles. Nintendo dropped a Tetris battle-royale game that caught on like fire. Tetris Effect on PS4 brought the game a new look and feel as well as well thought out VR support. The Switch has also brought couch multiplayer back in a big way. Treasure Stack capitalizes on both of these trends in a strong way, mixing real-time multiplayer puzzling with a quick-paced platformer game.The chaos that ensues is both frustrating, and incredibly satisfying to master.
Treasure Stack plays into the puzzle aspects of a few different games. Sets of two different color blocks fall from the top of the screen into a central well as you work to clear out matching colors. A few things that set this game apart are that the blocks come in a few colors, but also two separate types, chests and keys. The chests that fall don’t do anything on their own, but if you land a key of the matching color next to any amount of chests, it will open them in a chain of all connected chests. This can lead to some very satisfying screen clears as chests and keys vanish and cascade down further into the well. Of course unlike most puzzle games where you are an omnipotent third party manipulating the pieces as they fall, you play as an adventurer inside the well.
As the game starts you find yourself as a nameless adventurer stuck in this well with chests and keys falling from the sky. Once they land, or even as they fall you can jump around and collect the chests, then bring them to other places. Each individual block can be picked up, stacked or dropped so if you work quickly you can start to sort the chest colors into groups, awaiting a key to snag a big open chain. In the beginning this feels incredibly overwhelming and complicated. As someone used to the action of a puzzle game this quickly feels like a whole new beast, even though the game itself is still all about clearing out your well to stay alive the longest. You start to learn there is a lot of depth in how you can actually handle what is being thrown at you.
Apart from just picking up things next to you, you can also pick up stacks of blocks. You can either place these next to you as well, or you can hold down when you place them to place them under you, popping you to the top of whatever you were holding. Being squashed by a falling set of blocks has the same effect of popping you on top of them. This quickly becomes a strategic move to get yourself around the well faster. Movement around the board and being able to reach things quickly becomes one of the more important aspects of playing this game, instead of just piece awareness. You also have the ability to pluck falling block groups out of the sky with a grappling hook which in itself adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. If a falling chest and key pair already match colors they will disappear the second they touch down. If you pull them out of the sky you are instantly holding them which will stop this effect. Allowing you to place them how you want, and possibly setup a larger chain opening.
Treasure stack has local multiplayer, online multiplayer, and solo modes. The solo mode is great for practicing, but I find it becomes very repetitive and uninteresting at a certain point. Many other puzzle games have plenty of solo variations to play, and activities to keep it fresh, but every run of this game seems to eventually end up the same. There is an unlock progression when playing this mode, but it only unlocks new character and grappling hook sprites to use, and much of these feel fairly generic and uninteresting. There are some fun ones I’ve unlocked so far such as a hamburger grappling hook, or a parakeet player sprite, but most feel like some generic hooded adventurer, or standard grappling hook sprites. After unlocking 10-15 characters it just started to feel stale. Multiplayer seems to be where the focus of this game will be.
Local multiplayer added a bit more fun to the base gameplay, but didn’t seem to offer any options for how to play the game. It is pretty standard affair that cleared chests add up to demon blocks dropped on your opponent which are blocks that can only be cleared by clearing something adjacent to them. This mode also feels like it could just use more. Many other of these couch-co op style games offer a great set of unique rules and customizations to keep the game feeling fresh and interesting over time. The other downside is even local multiplayer doesn’t seem to work towards progression unlocks like many other couch-co op games.
Online multiplayer has more in terms of what you can earn, but again there is very little variation in what you can do. There are seasons in the multiplayer that allow you to try to earn win streaks and rank up to unlock season specific unlocks, but you will still always be playing the same game and mode again and again. You can either participate in the season and play 1v1 matches, or do more casual 4 player matches. On game launch there are already people far exceeding my level in the 1v1 matches, and it remains to be seen if eventually this will even out with worse players actually being in the lower ranks once better players progress to the higher ranks.
The season unlocks still seem to be new character sprites and grappling hooks, which again are purely cosmetic. It’s nice that there is a multiplayer progression hook, but my gripe with the game is the solo mode is the only way that seems to work to unlock the standard base unlocks in the game, and the solo mode quickly becomes pretty stale. While the solo mode functions similar to other endless modes, there is no true end game or level to hit along the way to really track your progress and how much better you are getting at the game. With Lumines this is the standard progression to clear 100 levels, and with Tetris you try to hit either a score high or in newer games a level high.
Overall the game is a very fun puzzle game, but if you don’t plan on playing it multiplayer the solo experience seems a bit lacking. If you’re looking for a good puzzle game on the go, and want something a little different, this game fits the bill. It mixes up the core idea of a puzzle game with an action platformer and actually manages to stick the landing and feel great to play.
Note: GameOctane editor Beau Severson received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Good blend of puzzle and action
Easy to learn hard to master
Full multiplayer season support
Lack of game modes
Solo mode grows stale