Have you ever experienced an escape room? They always involve a theme like solve the murder of Professor Hobgoblin, locate the antidote before the virus infects you, stop the bomb and save the world, all before time runs out. A small group of players are allowed in a room at one time and must work together to decipher puzzles, find hidden passages, and escape in one piece. What better way to test the strength of your friendships than locking yourselves in a room together for an extended period of time? This weekend my husband and I opted for an escape room available to us right at the palm of our hands. Little did we know we’d find ourselves traveling through time and trapped in an eerie village filled with family secrets, peculiar puzzles and scrambling to get out alive.
Skillful clockmaker Amalie Ravn and her sister Lærke have toiled with time in an attempt to live longer lives. In turn they’ve created a cryptic world where strange events take place and around every corner are ticking clocks, mechanical trinkets, and mysteries to discover. Developed by Other Tales Interactive, Tick Tock: A Tale for Two isn’t your typical couch co- op. Inspired by escape rooms, this two-player game puts players in the role of the storyteller. Whether you’re in the same room or oceans apart, you and your friend will be transported to another world where time is relative. Players use separate screens, each displaying different pieces of both the narrative and the puzzles. Your communication skills will be put to the test as you describe what you see on each of your screens and work together to combine the information you each possess to unravel the story, solve the puzzles, and escape.
As players become immersed in this extraordinary hand drawn world they’ll discover an old clock shop, climb down a well to discover a curious mechanism, visit a post office with messages from another time, and more. Players stand at the center of the village on what appears to be the center of a clock. There are four directions you are able to go in and each time you turn to face the point of direction you want to follow, the clock will change time either forwards or backwards.
Tick Tock: A Tale for Two operates as a point and click first person experience but instead of playing as a character you play as yourself. Cross-play is available in that one person may use a computer while another may use their iPhone but the twist is that the game is not connected to a network, so communication in person or over the phone is key. At the start players are given the opportunity to choose to be Player One or Player Two. Both players will be able to access the same areas but the clues, puzzles, and narrative will vary from one player to another. For example my husband selected Player 2 and kept asking if I saw a white bird on my screen and I never did. While on my screen I entered a home and saw a white moth drawn to the flicker of a lightbulb that he didn’t see.
It is impossible to have the full scope of the story and next to impossible to solve puzzles if you don’t communicate with one another. The game doesn’t offer a chat option because it’s not connected to a network but players can use their phones or other voice chat apps if they aren’t playing together in the same room. Once you’re in the game it’s important to constantly describe everything you see to on another; nearly everything has a purpose. Even if you think an item you see may be insignificant it could be something of importance to the other player when solving a puzzle on their screen. For example in one area of the game both players can access an old radio. Each player can dial up stations on the radio and scrambled letters take shape to form half sentences when tuned to the proper station. One player will have one part of the sentence and the other player will have the remaining piece. By reading aloud and putting the sentences together players are able to unravel the story and piece together clues from the narrative to solve the next puzzle.
The puzzles start off simple and increase in difficulty over time. If you’re sitting with your friend while playing it can be tempting to just look at each other’s screens and put the pieces together faster, but that takes away from the whole experience. Part of the fun is figuring out how to describe the items you see and the clues that you have, putting it all together, and then fist bumping every time you solve a puzzle believing you truly are a genius. There were a couple puzzles my husband and I were admittedly stumped on and when we felt we exhausted all of our options we’d look at each other screens. If we were still stuck we checked the game’s Discord channel (located here) which offers tips to players in order to solve the puzzle. To be fair though, half of those instances where we felt the puzzle was too difficult we laughed at ourselves for how simple the solution really was.
There’s this incredible excitement that takes over you each time you enter a new area of the game or locate a puzzle. “Ok so, I have a clock with four gems do you see that too? You don’t?! What could it mean?!” Admittedly my excitement to describe rooms and solve puzzles overshadowed the story in some parts. I became more focused on the clue I needed rather than the full picture of what took place in this village. As you progress through the game I’d recommend taking your time to get to know the story of Amalie and Lærke as you uncover new puzzles and secrets.
Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is not designed to be played alone. Players are meant to experience the beauty of this mysterious world together, share in the puzzling adventures, and sleuth their way through a story with a dark past. It is a refreshing take on couch co-ops and puzzle based games. My only regret was that it was too short, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun.
Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is currently available on PC, iOS, and Android.
Check out the trailer below: