In my youth I was a huge fan of adventure games. My parents always encouraged my enjoyment of them, providing me with classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island and Kings Quest. But alas, those fabulous franchises died slow, painful deaths in the late 90’s, and have only barely dribbled since. Some may recall the recent King’s Quest reboot, a pretty strong attempt by the now Activision-owned Sierra to reboot the franchise, though due to the huge changes made to the franchise in this latest entry it mainly flew under my radar.
Tick’s Tales didn’t though. Released recently, Tick’s Tales tries to emulate 90’s adventure games in both look and feel using modern technology. It’s unsurprising really that it was published by Phoenix Online, the creators of the well-known King’s Quest fan-sequel The Silver Lining.
The game follows the story of a young (and rather pathetic) boy called Tick who dreams of becoming a knight and wooing the lovely Georgia McGorgeous. To do so, he must successfully prove his strength, courage and wisdom and pull the Sword of Blargh from a stone. Yes, it’s a game based on a combination of different merged clichés, but to be fair so were the majority of the KQ games. Set in the town of Remington, the entire game takes place within and around the walls of the town. Granted, there are under 20 different areas in the whole game, leading to a fair amount of backtracking, but each space is used well and certain elements you notice early on do end up being useful later down the line, leading to a feeling of geographical completion. It’s very satisfying, with an ending which warms the heart.
The puzzles themselves are incredibly reminiscent of the 90’s, combining common-sense with the odd dose of wackiness. I particularly like the puzzles related to clues given in the form of riddles, as they all actually make sense. Tick’s Tales does away with the banana-unicorn-octopus-mouse mat randomness found in many adventure games, making solutions satisfyingly fun, yet sensible. However, I did find the game as a whole to be a little bit too easy; though whether this is more down to the size of the game area/lack of usable objects or the overall difficulty of the problems I couldn’t say.
The interface is very barebones; you can click to use/walk or right-click to examine, with a simple backpack tab for the inventory. Whilst it’s functional, it could have done with some form of dynamic cursor so that you know what you can and can’t interact with, as it sometimes led to confusion when exploring.
My main gripe is the fact that it ended too soon. Honestly, I really enjoyed playing through the game and was a little disappointed when it ended just 100 minutes in. Most adventure games are actually pretty short if you know all of the puzzle solutions, and their lengths often rely on the player’s own difficulty in figuring out the answers to them. I remember being stuck for literally days on my first play through of The Curse of Monkey Island, just because I couldn’t figure out how to throw a caber across a field, and as such the game’s length was extended through its difficulty. (Hint: use a rubber tree.) Tick’s Tales pales in comparison, and I would argue that it either needed more content or a higher level of difficulty and puzzle obscurity to round out the package.
In short, Tick’s Tales: Up all Knight is a beautifully charming homage to adventure gaming in a very King’s Quest-like style. Its main problems stem from its relative lack of difficulty, and as such it’s length as a whole. I would still recommend it due to some great humour and a fulfilling (if cliché) story, but be prepared to feel underwhelmed by the amount of content.