2-4 players, Cooperative, Story-Based
Designers: Peggy Chassenet, Manuel Rozoy
Artwork: Ben Carre
Publisher: Space Cowboys
Overview of Gameplay
You are agents working to protect humanity from devious time things such as temporal paradoxes and faults in time. To do this you will be sent through time to basically possess another person’s body in an effort to figure out what causes the problem and put a stop to it.
On the board what you will do is move your characters wooden peg to different cards to investigate the cards. When you zip through time you will layout a nice panorama of cards on the board that display a overall view of whatever area you are currently in. Then you take turns moving your character peg to the different cards in that area, flipping the cards and reading the clues on the back. Of course time is always an issue as you search around. As the game progresses you will lose “time” and if you ever run out of time then you have to start over.
That initially sounds really bad. Who wants to replay an entire game again from the beginning, over and over again? But honestly it’s not nearly as bad as you might think. There are a very small amount of things you can find that you can keep from run to run so it’s not all a total loss. But most importantly is the knowledge that you garnered from your first or second run through. Using this knowledge you can easily bypass all those dead ends or useless people that gave you no information the first time you talked to them.
Win Condition /Length
The first time me and a buddy sat down to play it took us 6 hours! Of course it took us 3 runs to get the info we needed and we were completely engaged the entire time. I’m talking fully entranced and wanting to play the game to the end. I will admit the second time we refreshed the game, I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Like I was lost and didn’t know what to do next. But after searching around some more and of course discussing with my friend about the stuff we had learned, it was only a matter of time before we figured it out. Once you solve the mystery and put a stop to whatever it is you are working towards, you win!
That said you don’t have to sit down for 6 hours to play. The insert in the box is made to hold the components in such a way to save your progress. So you can really stop anytime and put it up. It took us 6 hours to beat the one story the game comes with so if you spread that out over a few 1 hour play sessions then you can really get your monies worth. THAT SAID, I personally couldn’t resist knowing what was going to happen in the story and the same goes for my buddy. So we blazed through the entire story in one evening.
Mind you I only sat this game up once and took it down once as we beat the story in one shot. It’s not very bad though, the board lays out and the stack of cards goes on one spot. There are a few tokens but you might not even use most of them depending on your character. I would say the setup took me all of 5 minutes after punching everything and unwrapping the cards. The takedown is even quicker as the insert holds everything in a specific spot. All in all a very nice and fast setup and takedown.
The components are decent. The game board itself is a little flimsy and pretty drab, luckily the cards are what you will be focusing on. The cards themselves are a bit oversized, which I like, and of a nominal quality. No linen finish or anything but they work, I do wish they were a bit thicker though. I had some trouble with them bowing up a bit so when laid on the board they spin if nudged. I really like the wooden painted dice. These look nice and roll very nice with the rounded edges. Also the painted wooden peg player makers are great although I hate the stickers that you have to affix to them. These don’t stick well and are a little too big so they are not flush on the top of the pegs.
The box is pretty standard sized, not too big and not tiny either however the real winner here is the insert. This thing is just amazing with perfectly notched areas for all the components and tokens. The cards all have a space and there are even spaces made to save your game progress if you want to take a break. Not only that but it looks really nice and futuristic and fits the theme of the game perfectly.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Another great visually themed game! The artwork on the cards is great and really draws you into the theme of the game, which is to say differs from story to story. Since the game deals with time travel there are so many options open here to have multiple stories and themes available over time. The theme that surrounds the base story is that of an old time insane asylum and personally I think it’s awesome. What makes it even cooler is that you actually play as some of the patients so you will come into the game having some “weaknesses” as well depending on which patient you choose to inhabit.
The rulebook isn’t all that bad actually. It’s short and sweet and has plenty of pictures to help with explaining things. It’s also got oversized pages which I really like in rulebooks. My one big complaint about it is the way the setup is organized, or lack there of. There is a setup page but it is a beast to follow along with if you are setting the game up to learn while you play. I think they did this to try and prevent possible spoilers in the story maybe but good grief. I had to flip all the way to the back to get to the point of “OK you are ready to play” and only then did it explain the rest of the setup I was needing of how to get started.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
This game is huge on table talk which I just adore. I mean it is a MUST for this game if you ever hope to win. You will need to discuss options and what you learned with your teammates so you can unravel the story and solve the mystery. As such there is a ton of friendly interaction to be had. And if it wasn’t evident enough from my mentioning the 6 hours we played, I enjoyed the game a lot. The fun is catching with this game, we WANTED to continue playing to see what would happen. I think this was most in part thanks to a very well written story, as the gameplay itself only really consisted of flipping cards and reading them and making dice roll skill checks some times.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
We played through the entire game 2 player and it was a blast. The turns are lightning fast so even at 4 players I can see this game being excellent. Not only that, but everyone is always engaged with what everyone else is doing so there really is never anyone sitting around being bored.
As far as the replayability goes this game is extremely below average by itself. I mean once you beat the included story, that’s it. It’s not a legacy game or anything, there are no cards getting shredded or stickers ruining the board for future playthroughs. However once you beat the story, well, you then know HOW to beat the story. SO any future playthroughs will be super easy and lose much of the mystery and theme that they had the first time through. Also the way the game is meant to be played means that you will undoubtedly have to go through the game multiple times before you defeat it. So once you finally do beat the game/story you probably won’t want to do it again.
The Fuzzy Llama Bronze Seal of Prevalence
The game is interesting and fun. I was looking for nice change of pace and needing a good story based game to sink my teeth into and I’m happy to say this one fit the bill. However I would recommend getting it on sale as once you beat the story, that’s it until you buy an expansion pack. If you’re like me and have a tendency to binge read or binge watch shows that you really get into, then you will more than likely blaze through the entire story in one sitting. And that leaves you with…..a game board just itching for the next expansion, in which case get ready to spend more money.
On that note there are already a ton of expansions out for sale. I haven’t yet picked up another one and honestly I’m still undecided if I want to go down this rabbit hole. Perhaps in a few months after I let the game simmer on my shelf I’ll get the wild urge to take myself and a friend through yet another journey of T.I.M.E. Stories.