Wednesday, 02 January 2019 06:00

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two Beta Review

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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Asymmetric multiplayer — the idea that different players have different abilities, roles, and perspectives in a game — is an interesting concept. It’s also an area of gaming that has potential for a lot more exploration, even though there are already some very clever concepts out there. In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, you work together to defuse bombs. Other games feel more like an escape room as you communicate with friends to advance through puzzles. Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is a bit different from these. It’s more like a classic point-and-click puzzler, but for two players. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it seems simultaneously a bit obvious and boring. At the same time, this interesting little indie story does have potential.

The available content is nicely done… so far

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is in open beta right now, and there’s one chapter available so far. In this case, that means there’s not enough content to really say much; it’s a shockingly short experience. It took me and a friend a mere thirty-five minutes to complete with joking around and a fetching-something-to-write-with break. We were kind of on a roll when a screen came up saying, “You’ve wasted 35 minutes of your time…” to signify that it was over. No “Thank you for playing,” and no “The End” — just a snarky little message mocking us for throwing our lives away on this game.  Luckily, it would be absurd if there wasn’t more story coming, since it’s set up as somewhat of a pot-boiler mystery.

And also luckily, the content that is available so far is pretty nice. There are no glitches, the artwork is pleasant, interesting, and fitting for what looks to be a dark but touching tale, and the puzzles are fairly fun and interesting.

The way the multiplayer is done also allows for cross-platform play with few technical difficulties. But this is somewhat of a trade-off because the game itself doesn’t actually host multiplayer sessions — in fact, there is no actual connection between your device and your friend’s. Instead, the puzzles that you and your friend see are different, and you need to communicate to solve them (either in real life or via a platform like Discord). This is a clever way to save time and money for the developers, but it also puts the hassle of connecting into the hands of the players.

The puzzles and the story serve each other well

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is about two sisters in a clock-making family, and there are appropriately many clocks and time-related puzzles. This adds a nice aesthetic to the experience because there are a lot of elements like gears, clock sounds, and calendars that add to the theme.

In summary, a wealth of potential for creative storytelling is here, but the sample we’ve been given is far too short. While it still has a novel feel, the asymmetric-multiplayer style has been used more creatively in the past. The puzzles, art style, and story of the first chapter seem nicely polished, but it’s too early to tell whether this title will maintain or even transcend that level of quality in later installments. While the plot hasn’t really had a chance to go anywhere yet, there seems to be a message about either being too late or running out of—

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Nicholas Barkdull

Nic is a writer and narrative designer with a PhD in Social Research and Cultural Studies. He thinks real time strategy games are still a valid form of e-sport, that true RPGs should be turn-based (with huge casts of characters), and that AAA games have a long way to go before they earn back our trust. He is the Lead Writer for Pathea Games's My Time at Sandrock, and his work can be seen in Playboy, South China Morning Post, The Daily Beast, and many other places.