As the Switch eShop continues to fill with puzzle games, each new entrant needs to stand out from the crowd, and boy, Treasure Stack does not do that.
Treasure Stack, at its core, is a puzzle game about stacking treasure chests together in like colors (either red, blue, green, or violet) to create combos when opened with color-specific keys. The stacking starts easily enough, as you play a character on the bottom of the screen who grapples, carries, and moves chests into favorable position, but the longer you continue through the round, the more garbage you accumulate on the board and the faster the chests fall.
These mechanics are simple to learn and difficult to master as one would expect from a puzzle game; however, the increase in difficulty feels quicker than it should. As a result of this difficulty spike, the gameplay doesn’t seem to get harder based on your skill as a player, but simply on how much time has passed. This means a player might be eliminated earlier than they feel they ought to be or continue further than they have the necessary skill to maintain.
Furthermore, one of the most important aspects of a puzzle game is the perpetuation of a gameplay cycle: the player loses, loads up a new round, and starts again. Most versions of Tetris, for example, will have a “New Game” option on the loss screen to encourage the player to start just one more round. Puzzle Stack greatly increases the period of time between games through its less than stellar UI. After finishing a game, the player has to return to the main menu, choose the mode they wish to play again, re-select their character and grappling hook (both of which have no affect on gameplay) and start up a new match. By putting this much time between matches, players can’t be enticed into instinctively jumping back in, but instead are given time to lose their flow.
As I was playing this game, I started up new matches after losses not because I was in said flow-state, but because I had to review it. Without that obligation, I can’t say I would have played more than one or two rounds.
Ultimately Treasure Stack has interesting base mechanics, but lacks the hooks that the most popular puzzle game franchises figured out decades ago, which leaves it well behind the offerings those franchises have provided on the same platform.
GAME: Treasure Stack
ESRB: E for Everyone
MSRP: $19.99 US
OBTAINED: Review code from developer/publisher for review purposes.