Ticket to Earth is a game that’s grown on me since its release back in March of 2017. At first I hated it, then I kinda liked it, then I thought it was legitimately great. After developer Robot Circus put out a third chapter to the game earlier this month, I now think Ticket to Earth is probably one of the all-time best mobile games around.
I know its name might make you think it’s some kind of sci-fi spin on Ticket to Ride, but Ticket to Earth is actually a sort of puzzle rpg that feels like an evolution of the Puzzle Quest games. Each level in the game is an encounter that takes place on a battlefield full of colored tiles, and matching linked tiles of certain colors lets you damage enemies and activate special powers. The twist that Ticket to Earth adds to this is that your players literally run around on these squares, as do their enemies, which adds a layer of tactical positioning to the game’s combat and makes it stand out from other puzzle rpgs.
What’s more is that Ticket to Earth’s tile-based combat system isn’t just mechanically significant; it also has narrative implications. Ticket to Earth weaves a tale about a space colony that is home to followers of The Movement, a sort of religion/martial arts hybrid reminiscent of The Force from Star Wars. Followers of The Movement can enhance their combat abilities based on how they move about the field of battle, which is tied directly to the game’s combat system.
Speaking of narrative, across the three episodes of Ticket to Earth released thus far, quite a bit has happened, and all of it is pretty interesting. Although the core story of the game is mostly just a prolonged chase scene, Ticket to Earth always takes time between levels to do some character work via optional little dialogue sequences that illustrate how key characters are reacting to the current situation as it unfolds. All of it is well written, and there have been a couple twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. It may not be mind-blowing stuff, but it makes you invest in your characters and gives you a reason to want to keep playing across the 80+ levels that are currently in the game.
Getting through 80 levels takes quite a while, but Ticket to Earth’s greatest strength is its ability to find new ways to keep you playing. Narrative developments, new enemy types, unique level objectives, additional characters, upgrade mechanics, and more keep you pushing through and wondering what is coming next. I’ve played all the way through the three chapters, and I haven’t even dug all the way into the myriad things the game offers for me to mess around with.
Ticket to Earth may not have started with all of this content, but each chapter feels like a full-on upgrade to the original game, and all at no cost. That’s right, if you decide to take the plunge on Ticket to Earth (which—if I haven’t been clear enough about up to this point—you totally should. Also it's on sale until 2019, so seriously, get on it.) you get every subsequent chapter for free, which is an incredible value.
Ticket to Earth is so great because it’s a game that keeps on giving. It knows what its strengths are, and each new chapter builds on those strengths in incredibly smart ways. After being pleasantly surprised and impressed by Ticket to Earth’s two add-on chapters, I eagerly anticipate the game’s fourth and final chapter and will jump to blaze through it whenever it finally releases. This game is just too good to pass up. Go play it already.