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Subject: Do you have the T.I.M.E.? A two sided look at TIME Stories rss

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Jared Voshall
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Let me start off by saying that I have two different ratings for this game. So, this will be a review in two parts - what I think of the game itself, and what I think of the system that it creates and the heights it could reach with a few simple tweaks.

Part 1: Seeking Asylum

So there you are, new recruits in an organization that sends recruits back to inhabit the bodies of innocent souls in the past to track down a temporal anomaly. To do so, you'll collect items, talk to the other asylum inmates, and follow the clues to figure out the Asylum's dark secret. But be quick - you only have a short amount of time to do it!

That's the elevator pitch for TIME Stories first story, Asylum. The story itself is good - there's plenty to explore and lots of interesting things to see and do. It's not one of the best stories ever - but it's engaging and when I played through it, it really drew me in. I wanted to explore the setting and find out what was really going on.

There are few games that I have felt so connected with the story. The locations really come alive and it really captures the exploration and interaction that you can get from a Point and Click adventure game - which I personally love. In addition, the rules are straightforward and intuitive, if not really the best explained.

But there are flaws. For me, the biggest drawback is the time limit. On its own, it adds tension and makes you consider what actions are worth taking and what actions are best avoided... But it also detracts from exploring the game and seeing all the work that the designers put into the story. Personally, I feel that it feels better without the artificial time limit on the game, as after getting rid of it I and those I played with felt we were able to really get in and explore the setting more. The replayability is also an issue, at least for the first scenario, as there's only a few real paths to completing it, and not much extra to explore after a few runs (or one thorough one without the time limit.

As much as I love the game, with all the problems that it has, I would only rate that part a 7 out of 10 - it's fun, and I'd play it again, but it could quite certainly be significantly better.

But that's not the end of it - not by any means. This game isn't simply a game with a built in scenario. This is the first entry into a new system, and... I can see tremendous potential with the game. First off, what they need to change:

1) Get rid of the time limit. It's an interesting mechanic, but it really pulls from the exploration theme of the game. Instead of taking the time to see the world and slowly piece together what's going on, you have to rush to the correct items, then rush to the right place, and still likely only come out with a handful of TU to spare. Instead, use it to crank up the tension where it makes sense - a deadline on a ransom, a ticking timebomb hidden on the location, etc.

2) The Token system is great, but underused in the starter scenario. In the first run, they're mostly used to track what scenes you've resolved. There were only a few cases where they tracked choices that you made or changed what was revealed when you went to a certain location. For future scenarios to shine, I think they need to really embrace this concept and really make the player's choices matter. This will also help with the replayability, as there could be different stories that come out with different decisions made.

So, with those changes in place, where does the game stand? Well, this will never tell a good action story, due to the overall granular and rather clunky combat resolution system. However, there are many stories that don't involve combat, and I think that this game can handle those types of stories spectacularly well. Minus the conversation trees, this game can handle anything that a Point and Click adventure puts out quite well. Overall, I think this could easily hit 9 out of 10 - and could even hit 10/10 with the right scenarios released. But with what we get to start with, we definitely have a 7/10 game.
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Benjamin
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I agree with this so much.

When I played, we we're a group of 4 very experienced gamers and played TIME Stories the first time together without any prior knowledge just reading the rules over dinner and then going for it.

Overall it was fun, but after finishing it there were a range of things we weren't too impressed by. I'd like to call it being let down by wasted potential.

First, the time limit didn't really add much. We liked the tension of it but the randomness of rolls spoils it as well as the feeling of missing out witty cards and well placed clues.

A system where the game world changes as time passes on would have been much cooler and more interesting.

Second, my biggest gripe with the game is the clues and riddles. We started remembering all the clues, the names, trying to pierce together what happened and how the snippets of information can guide our actions. However, it turned out to be pointless with no additional value at all. In fact, I would argue it made the game more difficult that way (in an unrewarding way).

Instead the one riddle to solve broke the Fourth Wall and was based on pictures that our group didn't pay attention to in the first go - We focussed on the written text as being relevant, not the art work.

We're still buying part 2, hoping it gets better.

9/10 idea
6/10 execution
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Neil Hale
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Bought this after seeing the hype train reviews against my better judgement. Played through the first run and sort of enjoyed what the game was trying to do, we failed, second run, got a little further but still failed - out of time on both attempts. The third time was just ridiculous, essentially saying you are shit so just keep going till you finish and damn the time.
The Time mechanic was badly implemented and left me cold. I think it would be better to have a way to get time back to prolong the earlier runs.
The game is expensive to jump in especially as there is no way to replay, even with another group - sitting out while others may be floundering would be a pointless exercise at best. It was essentially a Steve Jackson book in board game form, only about 3 times more expensive.
I will not buy the expansions (way too expensive) so now I am stuck with a dust gatherer, I doubt there is a second hand market for this game.
 
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Chris Hainz
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There are so many people out there already filling the gap, so you will be able to play at least one scenario a month at that rate; there will be free online expansions, too, if you look at Rapture, for example.
If Space Cowboys won't take mine, I will probably let it download everybody for free, too.

What I don't understand - you would pay nearly as much money for a good book (which I read in about the same time) or comic and would not complain that you couldn't read it again, because you know the story now... think about it!
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Neil Hale
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The Time mechanic still sucks, regardless of cost. The third run is a total cop out essentially allowing you to just keep going till you finish with little satisfacion and a pissed off Bob.

Don't know what books you read, I wouldn't buy any book for £30 no matter how good it was, a hardback is half that cost here in the UK.
Each further adventure is £20, and I'm guessing a free to play would need to be printed so unless you can get ink for free, forget that.
 
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Chris Hainz
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Can't understand your point. 15 or 20 pounds is almost the same and I pay for ink 1,50€ for one cartridge. So 6€ total for all colours including black.
When I see what people are spending their money for - hey, there are many more useless opportunities...
But if it's not your game, just leave it.
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Neil Hale
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LeGon wrote:
But if it's not your game, just leave it.

Which was my original point exactly. It was you who decided I was incorrect and that my opinion was wrong.
 
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Stephen Cooper
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B0bafett wrote:
Played through the first run and sort of enjoyed what the game was trying to do, we failed, second run, got a little further but still failed - out of time on both attempts. The third time was just ridiculous, essentially saying you are shit so just keep going till you finish and damn the time.
Asylum is a training mission, neither of the subsequent missions let you off so easily on the third run.

B0bafett wrote:
I think it would be better to have a way to get time back to prolong the earlier runs.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Implemented in A Prophecy of Dragons.

B0bafett wrote:
I will not buy the expansions (way too expensive) so now I am stuck with a dust gatherer, I doubt there is a second hand market for this game.
Cost is subjective (I think it's very good value for the entertainment delivered), but have you checked the marketplace? I saw a query on a thread wanting to know when the second printing is coming. You could strike while the iron is hot and make both yourself and a potential time agent happy.
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Neil Hale
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Second Printing? I didn't know it was hard to find, the store I picked it up from had about 3 copies in when I got it.
 
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