Critical Play: Mysteries – “Tick Tock: A Tale for Two”

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is a narrative, puzzle adventure game designed for two players. The game starts by sending the players back in time to two different time periods in the same village in 1930’s Denmark which was facing disappearances under mysterious circumstances. Each player is exposed to a different game world, even though it’s the same physical location, it is populated by different buildings to explore and different clues to gather to solve the many puzzles of the game. A player may gather parts of the solution, while the other will have to input those clues and actually solve the puzzle. Some puzzles may require you to rearrange text fragments or floating letters which reveal events which happened in the story, while others will have players spinning the world like a clock or running in to the correct radio frequency in one time period in order to enter the correct date to complete a puzzle in another.

The story is centered around the relationship between two sisters who are the descendants of a long lineage of clock makers, Amalie and Lærke who have conducted sinister experiments to harvest and even prolong time. The players must then traverse a span of 15 years beginning during the childhood of the two sisters and moving forward through time and location jumps after the completion of each chapter. Even though the players never meet any characters throughout the game, the story is told entirely through puzzles and the environment. It may be through the artifacts recovered after successfully unlocking a safe, the texts reconstructed after putting together newspaper clippings or letters and arranging them in the correct chronological order, or even by looking for radio transmissions and advertisements found in the game world, that the players are able to discover what happened to the two sisters.

The game is entirely 2D, using a stylised yet not completely cartoonish art style, using time and region appropriate architecture and advertisements, which perfectly suits the magic realism aspects of the story. Additionally, gameplay always seems to take place at night, adding to the mystery aspects of the story and dotting the atmosphere with sinister undertones. Despite the novelty of the cooperative aspects of the game, the story may suffer at times due to this very split, given that it is told entirely through clue fragments and puzzle solutions, even if players communicate all of their findings to each other, it may be hard to piece together susscintly and coherently without leaving out any details. It would have been helpful to have, at the end of every chapter, a recap or some other storytelling element which would provide both players the same narrative experience to ensure they understand the story they have uncovered so far.

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