I’d say this has been a pretty awesome week for Aussie indies, wouldn’t you agree? First it was Death Squared, a talented little puzzler, but now we’ve got a completely different perspective on a partially similar genre in Ticket to Earth through Melbourne’s Robot Circus.

Here’s the skinny. You’re on a distant planet where a dying colony has just one Colonisation ship remaining, following everyone else leaving the world behind. Through a conspiracy and rather messy political system, you’re out to survive long enough to get through to the last ship and take that journey to safety.

Ticket to Earth combines a number of different ideas, using a puzzle board full of differing coloured blocks that determine where your character can go, an element of turn-based strategy in terms of how you progress through each mission and defeat your foes, and an RPG as you upgrade and improve your team to increase your chances of survival. All that’s wrapped up in a colourful but deadly world, with a narrative split across multiple episodes.

First thing that comes to mind when I saw the trailer was ‘campy 70’s sci-fi action mixed with X-Com’, but that doesn’t really do it justice. The story isn’t campy, for one, and in many ways it reflects our dodgy modern society of digging up whatever we can find and leaving the environment behind in our wake … or something like that. More important than that, its that combination of puzzle solving to determine the best kind of offence or defence that appeals to little old me, the kid that constantly blames Tetris for his puzzle addiction. Sign me up!

Episode 1 (subtitled ‘Uprising’) is out now on iOS, with Android and PC releases to follow, and helps to introduce you to the world, the scenario and your available heroes in Seven, Wolf, Doc and Rose. Each one brings with them unique abilities and you’ll need all those options (in the grand X-Com tradition) to complete each quest. The later three episodes¬†will be out later this year, but there seems to be plenty of content to begin with here. I’ll be downloading this as soon as my iPad returns to me (it’s currently in another house, of course it is!) so keep an eye out for more real soon.

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