By Dax Duong
COVID-19 has made it feel impossible to hang out with friends. Having a chill study session, trying out a new recipe and sharing a cup of tea over Zoom just doesn’t feel the same as doing those things in person. But one of my favorite pastimes before the pandemic was escape rooms — I loved being immersed in the story, working through challenging puzzles and creating a shared experience with my friends and family. Though I miss in-person escape rooms, I’ve found a game that delivers an adventure with many of the same elements.
“Tick Tock: A Tale for Two” is a two-player, co-op puzzle game inspired by escape rooms, so if you enjoy those, you’ll probably enjoy this game too. You and your friend get sucked into a magical pocket watch, and are whisked away to a world cloaked in magical realism and mystery. The gloomy atmosphere and feeling of being in an abandoned town create an immersive, vaguely eerie setting. As you solve a series of well-balanced puzzles, you discover more and more fragments of the dark story of Amalie and Lærke, sisters who come from a long line of clockmakers.
Navigating these puzzles requires detailed and coordinated communication. As Player 1 and Player 2, you and your friend have access to completely different sets of information that must be pieced together to make sense of the situation and progress through the game. If you don’t describe what you see well enough, your partner may not even realize that what they’re looking at is critical to the solution, and you’ll both end up lost.
Logistically, “Tick Tock” is a great game to play while social distancing. The game can be played across a range of devices — including mobile, Mac, PC, tablet and Nintendo Switch — and doesn’t require the two devices to be connected, making it easy to set up and play the game. All you need is a way to speak to each other. My friend and I used Discord, but anything that allows for voice chat, like Zoom, Skype or a regular phone, will work just fine. Another feature that contributes to the game’s easy setup is its intuitive point-and-click controls. Additionally, the game can easily be played in one sitting (about 2-4 hours), making it an ideal length for a hangout.
“Tick Tock” has also earned a lengthy list of awards and recognition, including “Most Inventive” Google Play Award 2019, and was most recently recognized only a few months ago when it was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award in March. This is quite impressive for Other Tales Interactive’s debut game. The studio consists of two writers and designers, Tanja Lind Tankred and Mira Dorthé, who both come from a background of not games, but literature. The duo taught themselves game development and art design specifically for “Tick Tock.”
So if you’re looking for a fun adventure to escape from the monotony of quarantine, and have a puzzle-loving friend to bring along for the ride, I’d highly recommend “Tick Tock: A Tale for Two.”
Contact Dax Duong at daxduong ‘at’ stanford.edu.