Cards. So many Cards! The simplicity of Stacklands’ gameplay can be misleading - it’s just a bunch of cards you know - while at the same time it is the one thing that drives this game and its gameplay beyond ‘just cards’ - way beyond!
Now here we are, feeling a tiny bit mislead by the cute looks , goofy sounds and easy controls of Stacklands. The actual gameplay though, is very different from what you might think at first. At its core, Stacklands is a hectic, nerve wrecking, manic and chaotic game of doing 10 things at the same time while everything has a timer that ticks more or less slowly. And you need to feed your villagers at the end of the Moon/Day. It is great fun to do all that though.
I love the game for its ingenuity, it uses the aforementioned cute graphics and goofy sounds in a very good way to create the, forgive my being very creative with words here, ‘haptic hell’, which you will spend some moments of the game in. Haptic, because you move cards by clicking on them with your mouse cursor, they also jiggle a tiny bit when you hover over them and there are different forms of sound feedback for most actions. Additionally, the cards are snapping onto each other if combined right. With varying stack sizes and conditions. So it does get more complex than moving Card A to Card B real quick and it feels a lot like moving cards rather than just clicking and moving the mouse.
I said ‘haptic hell’, because there are so many cards you need to manage as soon as the game starts taking off, you definitely will feel lost or overwhelmed sometimes. Lucky us though, the game can be paused. You can take a breath, look at your card-chaos and find a way through it, mentally. You can also move cards around during Pause, which gives you a chance to get things right! So there you go, Stacklands is a card based city builder with quests, combat and exploration. It really is also a puzzle game that rewards experimentation above all else. And being organized. Being organized helps a lot, but is not mandatory.
The game has a tutorial kind of way of letting you in, with little quests and tasks to accomplish. It also features a ‘cardopedia’, containing all the new cards you unlock while you play. That structure makes the game very fun to play, gives you a goal to achieve and strife for, without hand holding you too tightly. A jolly good time can be had with this game, if you are not put off by the simple graphics and the ultimately limited scope. Which you shouldn’t, because its fun!