T.I.M.E. Stories by Space Cowboys – Review

T.I.M.E. Stories by Space Cowboys - Review 1

What drives TIME Stories is the story. It totally had my group involved and excited.

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Theme and What is it?

You have finally completed your training and your first mission approaches. You are now a time agent and your first assignment has arrived. Your nerves are not as bad as you thought they would be. You don’t know your assignment yet, you only know that it is your job to go back in time and stop temporal faults which can unravel the fabric of the universe.

You wonder when and where you will be sent. You wonder what body you will inhabit for this mission. Now that you think about all of this, maybe your nerves are way worse than you thought they would be. But this is it. You enter a room full of bright lights and odd shaped capsules. You have worked your whole life for this and nothing can stand in your way…except failure. Jeez! Why did that just pop in your head? But that is not true is it? Not even failure can’t stand in your way. If your mission is not a success, you can just reenter the same time dimension and try again, unless The Academy gets upset with you for spending too much money. You will need to keep these time jumps to a minimum. Well, ready or not here you go!

T.I.M.E. Stories is cooperative narrative game for 2-4 players.

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Gameplay Mechanics

I will only give a brief overview of some of the mechanics. That way I will not spoil any of the story or adventure for you. Also, the pictures are spoiler free as possible while still tryin to show components and elements of the game.

TIME Stories calls itself a “decksploration” game. Players use a deck of cards to craft a story and gain hints and items needed to complete the narrative. The majority of the deck are room cards. Room cards create a panorama in front of the players view and set up the story or continue the story. Players may choose to explore parts of the current room them are in by flipping over a card and seeing what the card tells them. By doing this, players can learn more about the story, collect items, find clues and even get trapped in puzzles and combat situations. 

Players can move around and explore as much as they want, but they must use Temporal Units (T.U.) to explore and move from room to room. Getting locked in combat or a puzzle uses T.U. until the challenge is complete. T.U. is very limited and the mission will be a failure if T.U. ever reaches zero. 

Players solve puzzles and participate in combat by using the characteristics of the receptacles they have chosen to inhabit on the mission. Some receptacles have more strength and others have more glibness. Most receptacles have a unique ability. You must decide as a team what the best combination for your run will be. 

At a certain point in the game you will discover that you have completed your mission and have been successful. If at any point all of the Time Units or if every receptacle is dead then your team has failed. You can restart a new run by resetting the deck.

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Initial Impressions

TIME Stories is a wonderful narrative experience. It is full of drama and suspense. The story keeps players wanting to explore more and see what else is going to happen. The room panoramas look amazing and the rest of the art really draws you into the game. 

The mechanics are quick to learn and that allows players to get involved in the story right away. The cooperative aspect of the game encourages lots of communication and discussion. This makes the game fun for everyone. Sometimes co-op games can be dominated by one player, but each player explores their own areas, but can move to where other players are able to help. 

We were not successful on our first attempt, or our second, or third. We would start a new run each evening and we were excited to get back to it and try again. There was never a feeling of discouragement.

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Game Build Quality

For the most part TIME Stories is solid when it comes to components. Just about everything is up to industry standards. My one complaint is with the player pieces. They are wood pieces with stickers on top. The stickers have not stayed on and I have had to reattach them. I have seen an upgrade kit for these and some other parts of the game. That will be on my wish list.

Overall, I was pleased with most of the items in the box and that is good because you will end up using them a lot as you move into the expansions.

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Artistic Direction

I have to describe two different versions of the artwork. The board and beginning artwork capture the futuristic feel of the story. It feels hi-tech. This all changes when you move into the mission, which is called Asylum. The best way for me to describe the feel is very macabre. 

Everything in the mission, including the receptacles, are morbid and nightmarish visuals. I do not want to give away too much, but I will say that my kids wanted nothing to do with this game and I was just fine with that. 

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Fun Factor

What drives TIME Stories is the story. It totally had my group involved and excited. After exploring for a few minutes most people were anxious to turn the panorama cards over to see what was happening on the backside of the cards. It created great suspense and we ate it up. The story got creepy quick, like instantly. 

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Age Range & Weight

The age range for TIME Stories is 12+. The Asylum mission skews way more mature. Only because of the horror element of the story. My kids were not fans of the game after the first room of the mission. I am glad they bowed out that early because it became much more intense. My gut feeling makes me want to say 15+ but it all depends on your kids and how they will react to scary elements.

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Conclusions

TIME Stories totally hooked my gaming group. We played it night after night. It took a number of runs before we were able to complete the mission successfully and nobody complained about that at all. 

If you are in search of a great narrative game or if you haven’t tried anything like that before and want a place to start, TIME Stories should be added to your wish list. There is only one mission in the base game, but it contains everything you will need for the expansions. For us the base game has provided hours of fun and we can’t wait to try the expansions.

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