Capsule Review: Tick Tock Isle

A short (one and a half hours or so) adventure game with a time travel gimmick. As a spiritual successor to Cat Poke, the structure and controls are quite similar. Walk left and right and occasionally into a door or up stairs, picking up anything you can because it’ll solve a puzzle later. This game adds dialog options and streamlines inventory management - now, if you walk to a place where you can use one of your items you’ll just get a button prompt to do so. There’s also a place where you can time travel between two eras, effectively doubling the size of the world.

Unfortunately, many things that were small problems in Cat Poke are big problems here. The silly tone and shallow characterization that was a good match for a bored child playing with cats doesn’t fit as well when you’re an adult trying to mend rifts in a dysfunctional family. The unintuitive and unpredictable nature of the puzzles is worse when the world is so much larger and takes longer to traverse, since your only real option is to just cycle through every location interacting with everything you can. It’s also a bit annoying that even when you do realize you’ve made the right change and now need to go to the other era, you have to go all the way back to the one place in the game where you can time travel.

Most of the game doesn’t restrict your movement and there’s little danger of doing things out of order or screwing anything up. Late in the game, however, there’s a totally innocuous action you can perform that will lock you in a course to the end of the game - despite the fact that you literally have access to a time machine and should be able to get out of the situation easily. If you’ve been playing in the natural way, there will also still be a couple of optional puzzles that you won’t yet have solved. You won’t miss much if this happens but if you want to see it your only recourse is to start completely over.

It’s also worth noting that there are a small handful of more traditional 2D platformer segments with actual combat. Early on, these were my favorite parts because they were the only time I actually knew what my goal was, though by the last one I was a bit tired of them (mainly because taking even a single hit sends you back to the beginning) and they could be quite off-putting to less-skilled players who came for the low-pressure adventure gameplay.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game, but wanted my time back.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.