T.I.M.E. Stories…okay, this one is going to be hard.
You see, the essence of T.I.M.E. Stories is that you are a time-traveling agent who is sent into the past to stop a temporal rift from occurring. Until you start the game and enter your mission briefing, you don’t know where or when you are going or what you will find there.
I’m not gonna lie, this had me hooked before I even opened the box. I have been wanting to play this game even before it ended up on everyone’s short list for game of the year. The only thing holding me back was the fact that you can only beat it once. I like to own games and play them over and over – that way I get my money’s worth. (Right now it’s going for about $43 on Amazon and a little cheaper other places).
So…I got the chance to play it this weekend because my public library has a circulating board game collection and bought this game about a month ago. (It hasn’t lasted on the shelf for more than a couple of hours before being checked out again). And once I had it in my possession, there was no question what my group was going to play on Friday.
What I can tell you:
This game is incredible. The production value of everything is top-notch. The amount of planning and deception that went into every twist and turn is unbelievable. When you first start playing the game, it feels as though it’s going to lead you along by the hand and show you what you need to do to win. Here’s the story – follow these clues – win the game. About halfway through our first run, we realized we were dealing with something else entirely.
I said our first run because no, we did not win our first time through – anyone who says they did is either incredibly lucky or lying. You see, the game is designed for you to have to take several attempts to win. If you run out of time (temporal units) or you all die, you are sucked back to the future for a debriefing before being sent back out again, but this time with all the knowledge you have just acquired on your previous run(s). It is not possible to play the game one time through and see everything. Also I think the flavor and feel of the game would be completely lessened if you finished it right away. Our team won the game on our extended third mission (scoring a measly 16 points) but who cares – we won. We figured it out. And the sense of accomplishment far outweighs any score.
What I can’t tell you:
Bunches! There is so much going on, and telling you anything could spoil the story.
I will say this: Play it with a group of your close friends. It helps if you know the way that the other players think and even the way that they play games. And…take your time. There is no app or sand timer determining how long you examine a card or how long it takes you to decode what to do next, so take your time. We had a few ten-minute discussions in the middle of the game that really helped us out. Also, don’t be afraid to experience everything – take it all in.
Wow! Just wow! This has got to be my all-time favorite gaming experience (for a game played in one evening). Most of the time when I’m in the middle of a game that I am really enjoying, I start soaking it all in, making sure I have a grasp of the rules, checking how much it’s going to cost me to own it and teach it to my other friends. I’m used to that feeling; the last one that really hooked me was Fury of Dracula.
But this one was something else entirely. I found myself glancing around my group then back to the game and saying out loud, “This game is incredible.” There was no part of the night that was slow or boring. At no time was anyone jumping on their phone – everyone was completely engaged. We were taking notes – trying to determine our next move and figuring out what we did wrong. We were working together and we had a fantastic time.
Absolutely THE best co-op game I’ve ever played. Only Pandemic Legacy comes close and I consider that a co-op campaign instead of just one game. I only wish that we could go back and start over so that we could figure it all out again, but instead I’m going to run it for another set of my friends soon. I can’t wait to see the expressions on their faces when it all hits and I can be like: “Right? I told you!”
Try this game. You will not regret it. I don’t. (Lucky for me there are expansions).