Published on February 19th, 2018 | by Dean Love1
Clue Adventures, London – Two Tickets To Ride
You have to admire the sheer balls on this game. In one sentence it manages to tip-toe around the copyright of both The Beatles and the London Underground, two of the most ardent defenders of their own trademarks around.
Luckily it tip-toes around well. The title is just a pun and, as you can see above, the imagery heavily references what you might expect to see in a London tube station without actually copying it.
Our first impressions of this game were a little unfavorable. An exclusively two-player game, you’re both given wireless headsets with microphones to allow you to both communicate with each other, deliver a custom soundtrack, and communicate with the host. It’s not an awful idea, and you try them on and test them in the room – to ensure they’re working, which is fine. The host then leaves and we listen to intro which fades out and leaves… a pretty loud and annoying buzzing in the headphones. One that we assumed was part of the background music when testing them, and in retrospect explained why the intro was so unclear. “Katherine, are your headphones buzzing a lot?” “Yeah, it’s annoying”. So remember the host can hear everything we say through these microphones too, and we don’t get any reply. At which point we sort of think this will be something we have to put up with. I slide the headphones down so they’re off to the side of my ears (they’re foam, on-ear ones) and that means I can hear myself think, albeit at the loss of the full immersion of having them directly over the ears. As we progress through the game, at some point the buzzing stops, though we didn’t exactly notice when. It was present for at least the first quarter of the game, and had it continued this would be a far less positive review…
I’m going to talk a little more about the headsets, as they’re the unique feature of this game: I’ve never seen it done elsewhere. I have mixed feelings. Firstly some people are going to find them straight-up uncomfortable to wear for an hour. We were fine but others may feel differently. Likewise how you’ll feel about the hygiene factor will vary from person to person too. I do wonder if a better approach would have been to have clip on mics and prompt people at the booking stage to bring their own headphones, and if not they’ll be provided for you. So there are certainly drawbacks.
But there are also advantages, ones that this game doesn’t really leverage at all. They’re used for clues and to help the host hear what you’re saying, but that can be done with a good mic and speaker set up in the room regardless. They give you a nice soundtrack to listen to, but likewise you can do that in game. The only purpose they really serve is to block out some of the external noise you might hear from things outside or in the adjacent game. Which is a shame. When I first saw the set up, I was convinced there just had to be a part where we would each get different clues through our headsets that we had to put together to make a puzzle, or that we would be physically separated at some point and forced to communicate via the headsets. None of this ever happened. All they did was make communicating slightly harder as there was a half a second or so lag between saying something and the other person hearing you, that wouldn’t be there in real life. Easy enough to deal with but a tad disconcerting.
It’s fortunate then, that the rest of the game is pretty damn good. There’s a nice structure to it, and a surprising number of different spaces for a game that physically occupies a fairly small surface area. The puzzles are quite logical, although they oddly favoured the mathematical for some reason. It’s no big deal, as you get a calculator, but it still stood out. One puzzle in particular impressed, as it can be solved in a hugely complicated mathematical way, or just by using some clever intuition.
Very few of the puzzles really needed teamwork, unfortunately. It’s always a shame in a two-player game to see puzzles that can be just as easily solved by someone on their own. There’s only really one puzzle that challenges your ability to communicate, and that proves to be a highlight.
The set looks great, and very much manages to pull off that London Underground aesthetic. One small disappointment involves a minor spoiler but nothing you can’t work out from the Clue Adventures website: the game involves and platform and a tube train. As you can probably guess, the tube train doesn’t actually physically move – that would be a hell of a game though – but the game simulates it. So you get back off the train the way you came and you’re on a “different” platform and a few things have changed. Because London Underground platforms all look very similar, this should really work quite well. But in our case it didn’t quite come together as, while there was new stuff in the room, all the stuff we had sorted through and discarded on the floor at the “original” platform was still there on the “new” one – a little more thought into how the space was reset would have made this feel much more real.
Another thing to note, and again if you’d rather go in as blind as possible, this could constitute a spoiler, is the ending. There’s a strong plot throughout and it comes with something of a twist, and for the first time in an escape room the twist made me go “oh, that’s why that thing was weird” – I’d actually spotted something that I was meant to spot. It’s a nice moment.
Lastly we have to mention the price. It’s one of the few games in London that actively caters for two people, so you’re not stuck paying for a minimum of three. But at £35 per person, you end up pretty near that price anyway. Ironically, Clue Adventures’ other game, The Book of Secrets, is one of those games that will cater for two, and at just £27 per person. It’s a hard game for two people alone, but it’s also a larger and more impressive one. If you have a bit of experience and are up for the challenge, it’s hard to recommend Two Tickets To Ride over it.
Overall this is a great game. There’s some questionable choices with the technology, but once the buzzing subsided it wasn’t a drawback for an otherwise quite impressive game. While it’s a small space, it uses it extremely well, and with just two people it’s not going to feel over-crowded. Well worth playing.
Result – we finished with just a few minutes left on the clock
Date played: 8 January 2018
Team: Dean, Katherine
Summary: A terrific game on its own merits, but equally it's a shame the technology wasn't used more imaginatively.