In Tick Tock: A Tale for Two you and your friend find yourself trapped in an eerie world created by the skilful clockmaker Amalie Ravn. Your mission is to escape! But to do so you need to navigate a mysterious, sinister clockwork world filled with secrets and cryptic puzzles. To find the truth and ultimately escape this place, you must combine the information on both players’ screens.
Time Played: 80 Minutes
Console: PC / Nintendo Switch / Mobile
Recommended For: Two players, for a relaxed and spooky 2hr experience.
Ever since I first heard about Tick Tock: A Tale for Two (ironically, through my work – I work in videogames and mutual friends and colleagues cannot stop recommending this one), I’ve had it on my “To-Play” list. For me, the problem was finding a second player, but that’s where my good friend Borderline Puzzler came in!
We sat down together in a Friday night from totally opposite corners of the United Kingdom and absolutely aced the game in 80 minutes, but how was the game? Simply magical!
Tick Tock is a hugely narrative driven story which makes sense – it’s won loads of awards for creativity and inventiveness and they’re all very well deserved. When you first open the game you’re not quite sure what is going on. The space is moody, atmospheric and most of all: very mysterious. But slowly the game unfolds through a patchwork of floating words and letters.
If the name ‘a tale for two’ weren’t a giveaway, you’re given half of the story. Every time a mysterious sentence appeared on my screen, floating like smoke, I only understood the meaning in context with that BDP saw on her screen. Together you work through both puzzles and story alike, for a truly brilliant conclusion.
On the topic of the conclusion… No, no spoilers here but there’s an incredible sort of ‘twist’ at the end I can’t help but mention. Even now, writing the review a while later, I can’t shake the ending out of my head. Like a memorable film, or piece of art, or tune you can recall vividly, the ending is clinging to me. Great art!
Overall, I don’t think either of us found the puzzles particularly challenging, but that might come with the territory! The key thing to understand is that you can see half of what you need to see. We didn’t use a single hint in the game and it was, in most cases, fairly straightforward to figure out what we needed to do. As I say, the key (no pun intended) to solving everything for us at least was staying in constant communication. In other words we both literally described everything all the time:
“Right ok there’s a speck of dust, and a slight shadow and the artwork on this page is a little rough, and I think the colour of this plant pot is sepia-“
“-Yeah none of that helps but keep going!”
Leave no stone unturned, no plant pot un-shaked, and no puzzle unsolved, that’s what I always say!
Particular puzzles players can expect to come across include Morse code, and conversely something that looks like Morse code but isn’t. There are a couple of ‘directional’ style puzzles to watch out for, and one particularly fiendish pattern puzzle which probably took up 20% of our whole gameplay time but felt super satisfying when we did ‘clock’ it. There’s a little bit of time travel in this game too, which is a nice mechanic not possible in real life but believable (and wonderful) in a video game.
Other Notable Stuff
Firstly, the artwork! Seriously, wow. This game is be-you-tee-ful. If you like dark forests and vintage phones and lights and clocks and keys and trains all rendered in a beautiful hand drawn style, then this is for you. In fact, stop what you’re doing! Go play it now! The images I’ve included in this article speak for themselves.
Secondly, the atmosphere. The night I played this I was home alone and wearing headphones. Every tiny creak in the game as I moved around a dusty room and every distant bird call I assumed somebody was in my apartment and about to murder me… Thankfully, I’m still here! Just a little spooked.
My experience of Tick Tock: A Tale for Two was absolutely magical. A combination of playing the game with excellent company, a spooky Friday night in and just a general sense of “wow the developers of this game should be so proud” makes this an exceptional game in my book. Plus, it’s such a good price. I picked it up in a Steam sale but it’s the kind of game I want to go back and re-purchase for full price. 100% worth it.
Tick Tock: A Tale for Two can be purchased for £5 on Steam or the Nintendo eShop. You can find all links on their website here. All images for this article are from Tick Tock: A Tale for Two’s press kit.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.