Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 3 hours (1-4 players)
TL; DR-The best DnD without a DM sandbox I could ask for.95%
Basics-Welcome to the T.I.M.E. corps! In this game you play agents of a future agency who teleport into the bodies of people living in various situations across space time-think Sliders and Quantum Leap. Will you prevent the rupturing of space time?
The mechanics are as easy as they come. At the start of each adventure, you are told to find some problem, fix it, and then return. From the space station, you teleport into the bodies of different individuals at the scene. These bodies have their own problems. The first adventure is a bit of a Lovecraftian inspired tale, so you start in an insane asylum and your host bodies all have some strange ticks that prevent things from working completely well. From there, you have a map of four Tarot-sized cards that you use to indicate where your group is currently exploring and a spread of cards that indicate the room or location you’re currently looking in. Each card is either the introductory text of the room or a space that you can interact with. You can look at the back of each card, but some cards have conflicts you have to resolve in order to progress. Each body you enter has two to three different stats. These stats indicate how well you handle different tests. These tests can range from social, to investigative, to straight up combat. All tests are handled the same way. You decide if you want to handle the test, choose the appropriate stat to use, and roll the number of dice for the stat on some wooden dice. These dice have either blue explosions or red skulls. Each test has a number of shields, and blue explosions remove shields. Red skulls cause the test to attack you back. You add the number of red skulls and the number of shields that have red skulls on them, and if the number is higher than your defense stat, you lose one life. There are also some tests that have different shields like time or life and those will either take more life or subtract time from your total.
Time is the main currency of the game. When you move between locations, roll the dice for a test, or move between panels at a location, you spend time. Moving between panels is just one click of time and can be done at the same time as another character at your location is rolling dice. Moving between locations results in your rolling a different die that takes between one and three time clicks to move around the map. When your time is up, you teleport back to the space stations.
Here is the most interesting part. As you adventure around, you receive items and tokens. The tokens are all color and symbol combinations that you place on the board. As you move around, these tokens unlock new locations. Some locations have one or more pictures of colored tokens on them, and you can’t access those locations until you get the tokens from other places on the map. The other thing a character can get is items. Items come from their own numbered deck, and these items range from maps to chainsaws. Some give you tokens or weapons to fight with. The most important thing some have is a mark indicating that you get to keep them if you run out of time. When you run out of time, you reset the board, replace all items in the deck except for any items marked with the TIME symbol. Then you most likely get yelled at by your TIME boss, and sent back in. But, now you can skip certain locations because you remember that information from your previous times through. In game terms you got a new map indicating the secret tunnel (for example), and you can just head there, bypassing the whole mess and a few other locations.
Your goal is to find the problem, solve it, and head home. Using the above mechanics, your wits, and what you discover as you move around the map, can you save time itself?
Mechanics– A summary from above-You have three stats, to do a test, roll the number of dice for the stat. You spend time when you roll or move. Moving to a new place takes time. Spend all your time, and you go back to the spaceship. Done! That is the rules for the game. With that you can get most of the game, and that level of simplicity is phenomenal! I love the way the mechanics don’t interrupt the game’s flow or overcomplicate things. This feels like a super simple RPG, and honestly, that’s not far from the truth in terms of how the game plays. 5/5
Theme– This game is the best American-style game I’ve played in a long time, including some of the RPGs I play all the time. Everything in this one feels right. The art is amazing, the cards all feel great, and the writing for the story is awesome. It’s got red herrings throughout that you want to check out, and little details that are awesome to understand. The only sad part is I can only play this once… 5/5
Instructions-Writing the instructions for this game are difficult. If you write too much, then you have to explain what some things that will happen are. If you write too little, you leave the players scrambling to understand what you meant. This game went a bit too little for my taste. The rules are by no means bad, but they are a bit too open as I played I and my group had to make a few calls about what things were and to just roll with the punches. That would be absolutely unforgivable in a game where every rule call could mean winning or losing, but since this game is a complete co-op game, it’s much more tolerable. If you don’t mind just saying “Ya, that seems right” a few times, then you won’t have a problem. If not, you will spend a bit of time on BoardGameGeek searching forums on how to execute the rules. 4.25/5
Execution-Execution is interesting. The game board and tokens feel sterile, and they should since your body is aboard the space station and you’re just being beamed into a person at the scene of the problem. The art of the cards is amazing, and it does help draw you into the scene. What I don’t like is some of the components, more specifically, the insert to keep things organized. It’s cheap loose plastic that was broken on my unboxing copy. This is a $60 game that after one playthrough I can’t play again (without buying an expansion), so for my money I expect a bit more. Also, you can’t really fit all the components well into the holes provided, so most days after opening up the box, you have a mess! That might be a pain, but overall the game’s parts are all done well. For the price, it’s not bad, but it could use a bit more. If you want to see all the pieces in action, here is my unboxing video https://youtu.be/jQsb6WBz31k 4.75/5
Summary-This is a phenomenal game that basically self destructs. It has zero replay, and that is the main drawback. You can’t unlearn the mystery in the mystery novel, and once you know what the right choices are, then this game is basically over. That’s not bad, as point and click adventure games are amazing, but you have to know that going in. For what it is, it is amazing. Its an RPG game where you don’t have a DM/GM. I get to play with my friends with no prep and everyone is on the same side of the game. It’s completely cooperative. It is expensive at $60, but not overly so. Furthermore, since the base game is designed to serve at the springboard for future games, it’s almost like buying the console to play video games. The story of the first adventure is fun, and any game that has sneaky Lovecraft has good Lovecraft (ie this game didn’t need to scream CTHULHU! to get sales). If want a fun co-op game where you get to play through a random adventure each time, provided you bought the expansion, then this is an amazing game that will draw you in and keep you hooked. 95%