There’s an interesting tension in game development between structure and novelty. When you’re programming you generally want your implementation to be as generic and reusable as possible, and build the content of the game to fit within that framework. Every bit of custom behavior takes time to develop and test, so it’s efficient to make mechanics that you can reuse in a lot of contexts. Having that structure is good for the players, as well, since the familiarity helps them learn the rules faster.
If you go to the extreme end of this line of thinking, you end up with a game like Stephen’s Sausage Roll, which has very few individual mechanics but explores the space of those mechanics completely, which makes the game about mastery; in order to continue being entertaining to the player is has to keep finding new and interesting ways to combining and reusing the same mechanics. It’s a sign of great skill on the part of the game developer to be able to explore the design space of simple mechanics in a robust and interesting way, and on the part of the player to be able to understand all the different ways of rolling their sausage.
On the other end of that line of thinking is maybe something like Wario Ware, where every little game has its own rules. Ticket finds a really well balanced middle ground. There’s a platforming game at its core, and it uses that familiar structure in order to make its subversive surprises legible. The world map that ties platforming levels together changes its style of representation several times, even changing places and becoming a platforming level itself at one point. Each time you visit the store to buy groceries the mechanics are different. One of the menu options that comes up when you die is “cry” and it sends you into a little vignette of a shoe crying.
All these little gimmicks are really fun to encounter as you’re going through, but they start to wear thin pretty quickly. The platformer context that gives these gimmicks their meaning is also what sucks the life out of them. For example, sometimes when you die, instead of going back to the world map you go to this little purgatory level that you have to run through. The first time you see it it’s cool and shocking- it breaks the rules of how you expect the death loop to go, but after you die a bunch of times (and if you’re me you die a lot, it’s a hard game) the gimmicks cease to be subversions of the standard death cycle and just start to be expected. After you see it a few times it’s no longer an exception to the rule, it is the rule, and most annoying of all the possible death screens is the one where you have to play another level that’s the same every time.