3 Games In: Time Stories

We’ve been playing more T.I.M.E Stories. Here’s a spoiler-free update of what I think:

I previously bundled a review about T.I.M.E Stories with a review of the Asylum mission so I thought I’d write an updated one that was spoiler free so people who didn’t own the game could actually read it.

Theme
You are T.I.M.E Agents running around the past in bodies you don’t own in order to stop baddies from doing bad things.

Mechanics
You move a map investigating areas, finding items and performing skill checks based on your characters attributes.
Each action costs TU [Time Units] from your limited pool.
When you run out of TU you go back to home-base, get yelled at, then begin the mission again, returning all items or map areas found that do not have a certain symbol on them.


The game is really just god damn great and I love it and I own all the expansions now.

If you enjoy exploration games, you can’t go wrong with this one.
What will now follow is a few paragraphs, mainly complaining about the game.

For the same reason a monkey is better at picking stocks than most brokers (https://www.forbes.com/sites/rickferri/2012/12/20/any-monkey-can-beat-the-market/#6d0e62d5630a), the inclusion of a human brain probably works against you when trying to suss out the correct choice in Time Stories. You are forced to make decisions based on almost no information and the knowledge that you are playing a game that has been designed by a group of people who may want you to choose a certain option. You would be better off letting a monkey pick where to go next or whether to take the risk of spending an extra TU to look inside a chest that tells you it’s no big deal.

Time Stories is so full of convincing red herrings and misdirection that you often feel completely blind while investigating, this wouldn’t be a problem if the time allotted to you wasn’t so strict. In our most recent adventure I worked out that the only way to finish it without looping (which loses you points and gets you told off by your boss) was to choose the absolute perfect path around the map, make all the skill checks the first time and roll 1 on the travel die (1/6) every single time you moved (12 times) which is has a 0.00000000004 probability of happening. This would be fine if you weren’t punished for it.

The missions often look like they have branching paths but this is rarely the case for anything other than for collecting minor resources or items. There is normally only the right path and the fake path that seems like the right path until you get to the end, wasting your entire loop.

The missions are annoyingly slightly too long to do in one sitting and slightly too short to do in two. There is a ‘save’ function where you use the box to store pieces but you have to keep so much information in your head that isn’t on the cards, I don’t think it would survive the time between sessions. I think it might be better if each expansion was two or more shorter missions that intertwined with each other. This way you could smash through one in a couple of hours (which makes it far easier to organise playing it) and have the decisions made in that one affect the next mission but not have to keep so many paths fresh in your mind at one time.

Despite the infuriating nature of the game, despite the final hour being such a horrendous slog, despite the difficulty of organising 4 busy people to spend 5 hours sitting at a table on a weekend; we keep coming back for more.
It’s just a really good time to play- at least for the first 4 hours.
The themes are always great, the art is beautiful and there’s always a new mechanic in each mission which helps to keep it fresh.
You never know quite what you are walking into but the quality of each mission has been so superb so far, I never mind springing for another expansion because I know it’s going to be a worthwhile experience.

After you’ve bought the game based entirely on my recommendation alone and you’ve played the first mission you can read my proper write-up here!

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