Ticket to Earth Review06 Apr 2017 8
Ticket to Earth Review
Released 15 Mar 2017
Not so long ago it appeared that every passenger on every bus and every train was glued to the sticky sugar rush addiction of Candy Crush. For a while, matching puzzle games were a license to print money and developers were quick to flood the market with a deluge of clones. Thankfully, there were some Frankenstein-like developers who took the basic matching premise, stitched on a whole different style of game and thus created something sure to keep the villagers from the castle gates.
Matching games have been combined with kingdom building, dungeon exploring and boat building to name but three. Now comes Ticket to Earth, a game that, incredulous as it may sound, combines colour matching with turn based tactics.
With the mining boom a distant memory, the citizens of New Providence are overjoyed to hear that the first earthbound ship in ten years is set to leave in a month. However, with less than 1% of the population able to afford a ticket home things are looking pretty desperate. Soon the colony is in chaos with giant roaches, malfunctioning robots, looters and escaped convicts running amok. The Mayor appeals for calm, some call for revolution, whilst others exploit the situation to make a quick buck.
You begin the game as Rose, a hippy chick whose main concern is to protect her garden from mutant roaches. She is soon joined by bounty hunter Wolf and between them they embark on a mission to discover just exactly what the hell is going on.
The main action in Ticket to Earth takes place on an isometric grid of coloured squares that resembles a 1970’s disco. The ‘dance floor’ is also populated with a range of bad guys, all keen on demonstrating their killer moves. Characters can perform two actions per turn, which are usually a mix of movement orders and ranged or melee attacks. From your character’s starting position you trace a line of the same coloured tiles and then your character will follow the path, claiming the tiles travelled over to power-up their combat powers. In addition, the more tiles you travel over the more damage your next attack will inflict. However, whenever you are hit you not only lose health, but also some of your attack power. Defeat an enemy and they may leave behind health restoring hearts or credits, but be quick to pick them up before someone else grabs them. To summarise, you are not only matching colours to enhance your combat powers but have to also plan your character’s movement to ensure that they end up in an effective attacking or defensive position.
Floor tiles come in four different colours, which relate to four combat powers. Yellow tiles represent melee attacks, purple tiles are ranged attacks, red tiles denote health powers and finally there are green mind powers. As the game progresses you will have the opportunity to use credits collected to buy a range of new powers. These powers often work better on certain types of enemy, for example, Rose’s core strike melee power is only effective against robots. This means that there is scope to swap and change combat powers between levels to ensure you have the best combination. Each character has an extra special justice power that is charged by collecting justice tokens and can be used to unleash devastating damage on all enemies. Later on in the game you will also have the chance to spend credits to purchase a range of new weapons.
There are two types of missions, the core ones and the bonus justice missions. Core missions have bonus objectives such as completing them in a set number of turns or finishing with maximum health. Complete these objectives and you will be rewarded with tokens that can be used to upgrade your talents. Talents offer a range of improvements such as attack bonuses and health enhancements.
The numerous plot threads are genuinely interesting and recounted through some superb sci-fi comic strip style artwork. The pounding music is also terrific and really drives the game forwards. The interface is smooth and responsive, although take care not to take your finger from the screen until you have traced out your whole path, otherwise you may find yourself not travelling as far as you planned and with no undo button, the results can be disastrous. Sometimes you do feel a little beholden to lady luck, especially when the randomly generated tiles do not give you any decent connected paths. The enemies also do not always behave in the most sensible ways, firebombing each other or missing the opportunity to attack but the game still feels well balanced and packs a decent challenge.
Well it packs a decent challenge whilst it lasts that is, and here is the games biggest and somewhat controversial problem. You can play through to the end of Ticket to Earth in less than six hours, which although a hugely enjoyable experience feels a little short for a premium priced game. There are currently 35 missions to complete in the included first episode and the developers promise that another three free to download episodes are, rather ambiguously “coming soon.” Other than going back and completing all of the bonus objectives there is not a whole lot more to keep you occupied. Incidentally, some of these objectives are really more reliant on you having your justice power available rather than any real skill.
There has obviously been a lot of time, effort and love put into Ticket to Earth and I can understand the developer’s desire to start seeing a return for all that investment. But on the other hand, it could be argued that when you pay a premium price you expect to have the full game, not to have to wait an undetermined amount of time for the next chapters to be released.
To some extent Ticket to Earth is a victim of it own high-standards and promise, as you just don’t want to stop playing. The choice is yours, either grab this unique and exceptionally well-executed game now and help the developer to cross the finishing line. Or, wait for the remaining 75% of the game to become available.
Editor's Note: As of October 9th, 2019, all four episodes of Ticket to Earth have been released and are available to play. They were included in free updates and the price of the game hasn't changed since launch. Matt's comments regarding missing content can now be safely disregarded.