Spotlight is where we at Best Play like to share our thoughts on a game we like or think is interesting but can’t stick the big rubber stamp of ‘Best Play Recommends’ on – yet!

What is Time Stories?

Time Stories is somewhat similar to our recent Spotlight guest, Arkham Horror LCG in that it’s a narrative-driven game with a whiff of the occult, but that’s where the similarities end. In Time Stories you’re a group of time travellers working together trying to fix rifts in time – basically an excuse to create groundhog day scenarios across multiple themes (sort of like Assassins Creed).

What comes in the box is just one story; other expansions will take you to Egypt or a zombie-ridden world, all using the same core mechanics. The actual gameplay consists of exploring locations, choosing branching paths and the odd bit of fighting and/or persuading.

Why do we think it’s interesting?

These one-time-only narrative-driven games offer something special and exciting when you open the box. Without having to worry about replay ability they can focus on giving you a one-off brilliant experience. Time Stories has a lot of mystery to it and decisions feel daunting, knowing they may drastically change your game.

Each new place you explore or item you find gives you that sense of thrill, “What is this for?”, “Who is this?”, “Are they good…or bad?” When you enter a room, you lay out this tapestry of cards that represent different areas or people in the room. You can then each decide where you explore. Do you use up precious time exploring methodically as a group, or split up and risk being divided?

As you gather information and items, you’re building your understanding of the story and knowledge of how to navigate this world. If you fail or decide for some reason to quit, you get to start the story again – you lose everything you’ve collected, apart from your precious knowledge. So it’s a bit like experiencing groundhog day Giving you that ground hog day feeling but with the ability to skip past Ned Ryerson so each run is more efficient and with less pitfalls or dead ends than the last.

The Rub

I mention groundhog day and how repeating the loop without your previous mistakes feels powerful. It can also feel frustrating, like when you’re trying to remember where you actually got the key to the door so you can just skip to the part you failed at the previous time. Or when you choose to take a different turn, only to find the other option wasn’t really that different or interesting. Deciding which branching path to go down can feel more like a coin flip with little feeling that you have the knowledge to make an informed decision.

The initial story itself contained in the box isn’t that interesting and once you’ve played it for a couple of hours, that’s it, until you go out and buy an expansion (we’ll update this spotlight once we have tried an expansion!)

Wrap-up

Time Stories promises so much and I am hopeful that other stories build on the core idea, which is unique and intriguing. But i, like me, you’re tired of the occult themes, this isn’t going to bring much in the way of new ideas and will set you back a pretty penny.

If you feel ready to take the plunge into this box of time-travelling delights you can support Best Play and pick up your own copy here from Amazon.