Game: T.I.M.E. Stories
Manufacturer: Space Cowboys
Designer: Peggy Chassenete & Mamuel Rozoy
T.I.M.E. Stories has been one of the most highly rated and most talked about releases of 2015, but also one of the more controversial since each scenario can only really be played once. I was very wary of buying this game since although £25 for 3 hours entertainment for 4 people isn’t that bad compared to most forms of entertainment, it is pretty high compared to most board games. Also, if I enjoyed it I would feel the need to buy an expansion every 3 months and also to take up valuable shelf real estate for a game that will only hit the table infrequently. Fortunately I was able to persuade the Broken Meeple to play his copy with us and I was super excited for a unique, one-off gaming experience. Here is the Yellow Meeple’s SPOILER FREE review.
In T.I.M.E. Stories, you are a group of up to four time travellers who are sent to a period of time on a mission. You only have a limited amount of time to complete your mission before you will be pulled back to the present day. If you don’t complete your mission in the first run, you can be sent back to the same time again to have another chance and hopefully you will be more efficient on your second time through because you’ve already explored and memorised certain key locations or facts.
The case included in the base game is the Asylum – you are transported back in time to a French lunatic asylum where funny things are going on. You appear in this asylum within the body of one of the patients. It’s your choice what patient you choose to be and each have potential special abilities or ‘issues’. The game then plays out in a series of rooms which are comprised of a set of cards. The artwork on the cards is fantastic and evokes the setting as well as including various people or objects which you may interact with. On a turn each player chooses one of the cards to flip, read and resolve if necessary. Flipping cards and undertaking other actions all costs time. Some cards might be deliberately misleading and simply there to waste time, others might involve skill checks or mean that you find different objects, for example clues or objects which may be useful in other rooms later in the game.
|The components, including dice for skill tests, tokens to mark your stats and different 'keys' to new locations.|
As a whole, the game is a puzzle, but at the same time logic alone may not lead you to the victorious path. There are certain points in the game which simply require gut instinct and although we made all of the correct decisions in our game I can see that if we’d approached the rooms in a different order we might not have gained the same thematic suspicions surrounding the plot and therefore we might have made fatal decisions resulting in a failure. I assume that people who fail simply start the game over, but I imagine that the second play through just isn’t as thematic because you already know some of the plot, some of the cards and might be able to undertake the whole story more efficiently with less surprises.
T.I.M.E. Stories was a truly immersive and memorable experience and very different to most co-operative games I’ve ever played. Rather than being the kind of co-operative game where you are trying to minimise and mitigate risk as part of a puzzle that periodically throws spanners in the works (in games such as Pandemic and Flash Point: Fire Rescue), T.I.M.E. Stories is a very narrative game where the co-operative nature really is in the group decision making and also trusting that your friends are giving you all of the relevant information they have seen.
Between the three of us who played we definitely got £25 worth of enjoyment from T.I.M.E. Stories, but I’m still not 100% sure I’d tell everyone I know to buy it if they haven’t played it. I think there is a flaw in the model of this game because if I had a friend who wanted to play the game I’d simply recommend they borrow it for 3 hours – it’s just not a game I think everyone needs to own a copy of. However, I’d definitely recommend people try this game for the unique experience it gives – for a one of play (rather than a rating for a game to add to a collection) I’d have to give T.I.M.E. Stories 8/10.