Ticket to Earth

Step on a crack, gen­er­ate a pocket-sized black hole

PCPOWERPLAY - - Contents -

Devel­oper Ro­bot CiR­Cus pub­lisher Ro­bot CiR­Cus price us$ 14.99 AvAil­Able At steam ( and ios) www.ro­bot-cir­cus.com/games/ticket-to-earth/

Puz­zle Quest came out way back in 2007, can you be­lieve that? The jewel-match­ing RPG that took the sim­plic­ity of a ba­sic mo­bile phone time­waster and lay­ered on im­pres­sive RPG depth. Now here’s an­other Aus­tralian in­die twist on colour-match­ing. We pro­filed Ticket to Earth at PAX 2016, then it hit the App Store in March. Now it’s out on PC, where it costs about twice as much for some rea­son.

Any­way, a bunch of char­ac­ters with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties are bat­tling for a seat on the last star­ship to Earth... more or less. They’re def­i­nitely do­ing a story about the doomed colony of New Prov­i­dence, any­way.

It’s widely de­scribed as a “match three” puz­zler, but re­ally this is a po­si­tional tac­ti­cal RPG that uses a colour-match­ing me­chanic to “charge up” each char­ac­ter. Each turn, the char­ac­ter moves, and the more squares they “match”, the more pow­er­ful the sub­se­quent at­tack... or defence... or spe­cial abil­ity.

Where TTE suc­ceeds is in the way it lay­ers sim­ple me­chan­ics to cre­ate some­thing that is both tac­ti­cally com­plex but also straight­for­ward to un­der­stand. So many games like this, which of­fer “100 spe­cial moves!” end up with the player star­ing at lists of “Dag­ger, Dag­ger+1, Dag­ger+2” and it be­comes all about knowl­edge management, rather than ac­tual tac­tics.

When you’re fully im­mersed in a Ticket to Earth bat­tle, you’re think­ing in shape, and colour. You’re think­ing in an­gle, and dis­tance. And you’re think­ing how all these things com­bine to give you ad­van­tage over the ca­pa­ble AI - but also how the AI is go­ing to use the same me­chan­ics to try to reach you.

a po­si­tional tac­ti­cal RPG that uses a colour­match­ing me­chanic to “charge up” each char­ac­ter

There’s a story of course, and char­ac­ters to care about, but func­tion­ally, it adds a nat­u­ral lin­ear pro­gres­sion that lets the player first come to grips with the ba­sic me­chan­ics, and then tackle things like ranged weapons and area-of-ef­fect later on. Not to men­tion each char­ac­ter’s unique pow­ers.

So, good ideas, good tac­tics, ar­guably more fun with a touch in­ter­face (and cheaper), but oth­er­wise what’s the prob­lem?

The prob­lem is that this is just “Episode 1” of the game. Ro­bot Cir­cus claims 10 hours of con­tent, but mo­bile play­ers say more like six - in any case, the ac­tual length is im­ma­te­rial. Tell any au­di­ence that this full-price ticket only buys part of the trip to Earth, and they’ll get mad.

In some ways the crit­i­cism feels un­fair: 10 hours of re­ally clever tac­ti­cal bat­tles for US$15 is de­cent value. But three months af­ter the iOS ver­sion launched, the fans are los­ing pa­tience.

To play Ticket to Earth is to buy into the hype around this game. It’s an unashamed in­die dar­ling, queer POC main char­ac­ter and all. It’s not just about clever me­chan­ics, it’s a solid at­tempt at telling a story about marginalised peo­ple hit­ting back.

At one Episode, Ticket to Earth is worth the price of ad­mis­sion. Once all four are re­leased, and as­sum­ing each brings fresh me­chan­ics to the colour­ful grid? Then it’s an ab­so­lute bar­gain. AN­THONY FORD­HAM

Fol­low the brains to power up brain­ing, or some­thing to that ef­fect

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.