Every once in awhile a game comes out that changes how I look at a game, the words that comes to mind to describe this phenom is game changer. 2015 brought us a game changer. T.I.M.E. Stories designed by Manuel Rozoy quickly shot up my top 100. The hardest part about discussing this game is the story based mechanic that is heavily involved. So I will due my best to not to spoil anything but no promises. I would also say that if you have no played this game you probably shouldn't read ANY reviews or thoughts about this game from any website. If you have the slightest interest in thematic story telling styles of games then play this game. If you have any experience (pun intended) in playing D&D or Role playing games, then play this game. If you are married to or your gaming group has a highly competitive person, play this game. The only people I do not recommend this game to are children. This is an adult themed game, not because of the way it plays but because of some of the content.
The story of this game is itself a huge spoiler. Consider yourself warned - In this game, you are working for a company that has figured out away to take your current body and place it throughout the course of time in fictional character and settings to stop another evil corporation from destroying the world both current and in time. (It's very James Cameron's Terminator set up.) The first setting being a 1920's asylum. This first setting would be put maybe in the horror category of game but it leans towards more creepy then horror. You stop the evil corp by figuring out what is going in the world, very explorative and puzzley. You are given a first person view as to what you are encountering in the room through the use of the cards that create panoramic picture. Each card is its own encounter, it could be that you must do a search check, or fight something. Or the card could simply be a conversation that helps you figure out the puzzle. You might grab a new item that you are going to need to finish the puzzle. Each time you view, encounter, fight, or take an item it reduces your teams time. When you run out of time you must start over without your items. Each run through the game giving you more information about how to solve the puzzle. This idea is not new to me because in the late 80's and early 90's there was a book series published that were extremely popular with myself and my friends; choose your own adventure books. After reading a page you had to decide option A or option B. This game finds its legs off of that mechanic. You never know if you made the right chose into you ran into a wall or possibly meet your fiery end. Its so captivating.
This Game to me has no real bad or ugly to it. I can see where most people would say that the ugly of this game is found in the price. Yeah its a rough price point if you pay MSRP. (which I did not) However I do not feel bad for a FLGS if they are going to be priced so high that they can not compete and thats what happen with my decision to purchase this game. However my FLGS did happen to make money off of this game seeing that I also own all the expansions to T.I.M.E. Stories considering the cost versus online retail was minimal in price, I purchased them there. (Shout out to valhalla games in Stockton, Ca.) The cost of this game give you 3-4 hours worth of game play. I have numerous $60 games that have played once or twice, putting my play time up to 2 maybe 3 hours. Plus the time spent with TIME stories is probably way more entertaining or engaging.
There are moment in the game where you must roll a dice to successfully fight, search or negotiate or you will have to spend more time each time you fail to roll the correct amount. To me this seem like I am being nit picky by complaining about the dice rolls. However for whatever reason I do not know why those 6 sided custom dice are incredibly tough to roll success on, thus making it my ugly part.
I only brought up the ugly because I do not see how any team could run through on its first time and win. Simply put you will fail at least once. I decided to play the game with my wife and wife only. I do not recommend that at all. I think the game would better with a group of 4. Still TIME stories was a great enjoyable experience that I would love to talk with more people about but I want them to play them first. I do not want to or intend to spoil this phenomenal game.
The other day I happen to be in the LA area and we stopped in at GameHaus this board gaming cafe in Glendale, CA. They actually had a copy of the game that remains behind the counter and needs a drivers license to be check out so none of the pieces go missing. This table next to us asked for TIME STORIES. All I wanted to do was yell across the room to PLAY TIME STORIES. As they opened the box I watch them get confused and realized that they did not have the time to play the game. I wanted to yell put down Dominion! PLAY TIME STORIES! My wife hates it when I talk to random strangers to help influence their decision especially at game stores, so she preemptive striked me with "no, Josh leave them alone." Followed by a "let them decide on their own." I slowly sank back into my chair because my wife is right in this moment. Who am I that would tell them that a boring themed deck builder is not the choice for them but TIME stories in fact a choice that people need to discover on their own. This is the place for me to say it.
PLAY TIME STORIES! However in this story based don't bother to cut the deck.