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Ticket to No Where Reviews
Author: Richard Otter
Date: 2004

Reviewed by David Whyld

This I liked although it wasnít a game I managed to make much progress with before I had to resort to the hints which, fortunately, are quite extensive but, unfortunately, donít give more than hints so if you're really stuck on a puzzle and donít have a clue what to do they're next to useless.
The idea behind the game seems like a very simple one to begin with: you have to be at a certain place by a certain time and have run into problems getting there. So you're hanging around a train station trying to figure out which train you need to board to get you to your destination. Easy enough? Far from it.

The train station isn't a particularly big place Ė 9 locations in total Ė but it gives the impression of being much larger due to the sheer number of things to do and the fact that the NPCs wander around from location to locationplace to place. Quite a few of the puzzles are obvious as a good number of items are literally lying around the place for you to find. Of course, once you find them you have to find something to do with them. Again, some are obvious. Examine enough things and you'll find clues telling you that such-and-such needs something and that someone else has lost an item. But a good few items donít seem to have an obvious use and there are a few that you're sure should be used for one thing but seem to have another use somewhere else. There's a coin stuck in a slot in one location which I was sure I could remove with the pencil I had managed to swipe, but no such luck.

Conversation is handled in the awkward format of ďask [name] about [subject]Ē Ė never a favourite of mine. Itís done better here than in most games in that I was actually able to garner a few responses from certain of the gameís NPCs instead of being hit with the default message that you tend to get when youíve asked something the writer didnít expect. But, still, it was trying at times. Communicating with characters by asking them about various things is difficult and most of the time you're sat there desperately trying to think of what to ask them about. The obvious things donít generate a response or they generate a not entirely helpful ones, and then you're left with the problem of trying to figure just what it is you need to be asking them.

A major communication problem arose when trying to speak to a young girl who is lost (jarringly, she is often referred to as Young Girl) and looking for a train to Donningby. I managed to find out from a helpful trainspotter chap where the young girl needed to go but trying to tell her this got the better of me. Maybe it was something incredibly obvious I was overlooking but after speaking random words to her and not getting a response, I just had to admit defeat. Ironically, she needs to go to platform 1 but even when standing on it I wasnít able to point this out to her!

There are a fair few things that need doing around the train station which donít really seem to be required to complete the game (I havenít completed it yet so I couldnít say for certain) but merely boost your overall score. Some of these consist of the tried and tested puzzle format of finding an item and giving it to someone else, but a good few are more inspired than that.

One thing I didnít realise, and which isn't made obvious if you donít pay really close attention to what is going on, is that boarding a train and reaching your meeting are an impossibility. Instead, you have to get the person to come to you. This was something that completely threw me as what seemed like a relatively simple game to begin with Ė buy a ticket, find which platform you need and then wait there for the required train Ė turns out to be a lot more difficult. Of course, you're not likely to discover that you canít get to your meeting until youíve boarded what you think is the right train only to end up failing the game as a result.

Unfortunately this is a game which is very easy to mess up, which I did several times. In one location I found a note and upon speaking to one of the NPCs I was told to hand it to the station master. Which I did. Only to discover that as I hadnít amended the details on the note first, a series of events later in the game werenít going to happen. The note was gone by this time of course and with no way of getting it back (that I knew of), I was faced with an unfinishable game. Maybe a warning or two for the player might be an idea?

Negative aspects aside, this was certainly my favourite game of the Summer Comp and with the difficulty toned down a little and some warnings for the player to avoid unfinishable states, it could be a far better game still.

7 out of 10

InsideAdrift  Issue 19 September/October 2004 contained a review of the all the 'InsideADRIFT Summer MiniComp 2004' games.

InsideAdrift 19

Reviewed by DIY Games (January 2005)

Ever wanted to experience the beauty of British train system? Now is your chance, as you just missed an important train, and you need to move from one city to the next on local connections, which never seem to be on time. As far as adventure games go, this one is unique, in the sense that you will feel no sense of accomplishment, but a growing frustration ending with a sigh of relief when itís all over. This is not because of any difficult puzzles, though. On the contrary; the game is relatively easy, but the story itself feels so life like and so bleak that itíll leave a weird aftertaste with the player.

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