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iOS Review: Timeline for iPad

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad
Current Price: $2.99
Developer/Publisher: Stephane Legrand/BOMBYX
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 60.1 MB
Multiplayer: Pass and Play.
AI: No.
Itunes link: Timeline for iPad





The Good:
- Excellent graphic design.
- The pass and play works very well, surpassing the physical game in some ways.
- The in app purchases are welcome and it is great to have them up front, especially for US players.
The Bad:
- The game is clearly a trivia based game and may not appeal to all strategy gamers.

Gameplay:
Timeline is a simple family game that combines light trivia with some equally light strategy. It is a great game for children and teenagers but can also take on a new life when played by more mature individuals.

Timeline is not terribly original (this may be a game you have played at school in a homemade fashion) but it presents self in an attractive and streamlined way. The game is made up of a deck of two sided cards. On one side is an image of an invention, event, discovery, etc. as well as the title of the object pictured on the card. On the opposite side of the card is the date the object on that card occurred. Each player is dealt a hand of cards from the deck. Make sure to keep the date side facedown. Next the top card of the deck is placed in the center of the table with its date face up. The first player then chooses one of the cards in their hand and decides if it happened before or after the card on the table. They then place it in the position they think it goes and flip it over so the date is revealed. If they were correct they leave the card in place, if not they discard that card and draw another from the deck. Future players continue this pattern placing cards from their hands in the spot they think they go in the timeline. The first player to place all the cards in their hand is the winner.

A large part of the game relies on player knowledge but there are also elements of strategy. As a player you must decide which card to place, do you place one that you know for sure or do you try the more difficult card in order to get rid of it early on. Some of the dates are also as close as a year apart so unless a player has memorized every card in the game, it is unlikely that they will go through the whole game without making a mistake. It is a fun light game that is great to introduce to kids and non-gamers.



Implementation:
I really enjoy the card game Timeline. I love the well done card art and the game’s simple concept. It is not a game for a gamer's game night but it excels at being able to fit almost every other bill. This app implementation extends that appeal further. Now the game is available in a super portable package with a polished design.

I feel most apps should be judged by their own merits but it is sometimes useful to know the developer's other work. In this case it is useful to know the the developer of Timeline is the developer for Cyclades as well. Cyclades launched with sparse features, a non existent tutorial and direct translation art that did not fit the iOS platform. Timeline could not be more different. One of the most important ways that Timeline improves upon previous efforts is the area of presentation. The overall design of the app is a sort of steam punk style. The menus function like control boards with toggles and switches. This is all very thematic and the animations will appeal to children while not overwhelming adults. The in game play has also been well designed with little animated touches that function in the background while not slowing down gameplay. The game also does not recreate cards (as many apps are prone to do) but present the information in similar fashion only without the rectangular constraint. This makes the game look much cleaner and efficient. It is apparent that thought has gone in to these design choices, making the game function and fit on iOS. I am really impressed by the way Timeline preserves the exact gameplay of the card game while making it feel completely natural and original on iOS.

Timeline surpasses Cyclades in the area of play options as well. Because of the trivia-game nature of Timeline there is no requirement for AI play. Instead players can play one of two single player modes. In one they try to place as may cards in the timeline as possible before they make five mistakes. In another there is a time limit and players attempt to place as many cards correctly before time runs out. Both of these modes award players with a score that they can compare with others on the device or Game Center. In this case AI play would just feel contrived and somewhat redundant, and I don’t miss it.

The app does feature pass and play for up to four players. The game can be set up for tablet play or pass and play depending on the situation. Because there is no hidden information this is an excellent way to play the game. The app really is so well designed that I would play it over the card game in many situations (of course the card game can handle eight players, so it does have an advantage). There is no online interaction apart from the Game Center high scores. It would be a welcome addition to have online multiplayer, but I do not feel it is required by any means. This really is a game that excels at being enjoyed in person or as a sort of private brian exercise.

One of the biggest complaints leveled at Timeline in the physical form is that with just one set of cards, it could be possible to memorize them all therefore limiting the replay value. While I question the truth of this (cards on either end of the spectrum are usually easy to remember, but those in the middle will not be memorized by just playing, some are even one year apart), the app is loaded with two in app purchases of additional cards. This is excellent for a fan of the game like me, as these cards are not available physically in the US yet. For all players it is great to see that there is additional content available right up front.




Conclusion:
Timeline is one of the best family games I have ever played on iPad. It maintains many aspects of the game but then supplements with beautiful digital design. The pass and play mode is well done and is an excellent way to play the game with four or less players. This may not be the app for every user, but it cannot be denied that it is one of the best iOS board gaming experiences.

Rating: 4/4 One of the Best
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