Look, I know this isn’t the game I picked out to play for #SciFiGameMonth, but it’s super-duper-extra SciFi, so even though I still intend to sit down with Eliza sometime before the month is out, I’m counting this one anyway. Ticket to Earth is a turn-based RPG-lite with a tile matching mechanic that takes place on a non-earth planet in a strange dystopian world, with a fun comic book-inspired art style. That’s a mouthful, I know, but the way it all comes together, is so strange, and yet, at least for me, so enjoyable.
Bear with me here, because this is going to sound like a lot, but the game really does ease you into it gently. Each turn, you get two actions. The first type of action is movement, where you choose a color and can continue moving as long as there is another adjacent tile of the same color to move to – diagonals count. You cannot, however, backtrack. This not only moves you around the board, getting you closer to or further from enemies, it also adds damage to your basic attack, up to a cap determined by your equipped weapon, as well as charges up a special abilities based on the color tiles you’re transversing. The second type of action is well, an action, whether it be a basic attack, a special attack, or a healing or cleansing ability. There are other types of special abilities, for example abilities that provide buffs or debuffs or that change the color of nearby tiles, that do not use up one of your actions, and can be used at any point when they are charged. Each scenario will have a primary objective, and three bonus objectives. Initially, you start with one controllable character, but as you progress through the story, you will add more characters to your party, and be able to take more than one into battle with you.
Between encounters, there’s actually quite a bit you can do, again, doled out slowly through story-based unlocks. You can check the communications log, for information on what’s going on with characters you’ve met so far. You can upgrade or change abilities, purchase new weapons, forge gemstones and unlock talents, provided you have the adequate related currency to do so. The story is fed to you slowly between conflicts, and for me, feels just about right – you’re not getting bogged down in it, and since there is no voice acting, you can proceed through story beats as quickly as you can read; quicker, in fact, if you decide you don’t care about the story at all. Optional missions will pop up on the map from time to time, which are battles that aren’t required for story progression, but that you can take on in order to help your team get more powerful. Since I’m playing on the easier difficulty, I’ve mostly skipped over these thus far.
I’m about, and working on the second episode of the story. My party has grown to three people, which means there’s one playable character I haven’t met yet, since four character slots are shown. Individual battles aren’t overly long, so I’ve been playing this for an “in between” game when I only have a short period of time available. It’s not quite a coffee break game, but it’s also not unreasonable to play in increments of 30 minutes or less. I would say the weakest aspect of the game is probably the writing – so far, the dialogue ranges from fine to ridiculous, and the story is passable, but not memorable. If you’re not a fan of the combat style, there’s not really any good reason to push through playing this one.
Ticket to Earth was originally released in an episodic format, but all chapters are out now, so it’s a complete game, with an estimated play time of about 18 hours. Assuming that’s accurate, I’m not quite a quarter of the way through. The $15 price point seems pretty spot on, and the $3 I paid for it during this last Summer Sale was a steal.