Review: T.I.M.E. Stories: Estrella Drive

The scenarios for TIME Stories are starting to pile up a bit now, and as one of our favourite games from the past couple of years we’re always excited to get our hands on a new scenario, and Estrella Drive was no exception. Who wouldn’t want to go back to Hollywood in the 80s?

Firstly, and while keeping the spoilers out of the review, any hopes you pick up from the box of travelling back to a film studio or set to solve whatever needs solving are squashed without even starting the game. It’s a bit surprising when you get started and find out what you’ll actually be doing, but that’s only a short term issue – once you get into the meat of the scenario you’ll forget all of that and get engrossed in what is, without a doubt, one of the best scenarios so far in terms of story telling and time travel.

There are a few notable changes in Estrella Drive which, depending on your point of view, will make this more or less enjoyable. The combat has been toned down throughout much of the game, and while there’s some really tough fights on offer later on there are possibilities to dodge some of those scuffles and give some less fighting to do. Also, in terms of puzzles, there’s not a huge amount of individual things to solve (something I really enjoyed in previous scenarios), instead focusing on a longer drawn out theme which means you’ll really need to be paying close attention to what you’ve seen and done, and hopefully remember it as you reach the later stages. It’s a different direction and one I found surprisingly enjoyable – this one very much gives you an interactive story without asking you to do too much which will affect your outcomes. If that doesn’t sound too great then it might be worth leaving this, but the storyline alone is, in my opinion, worth the entrance fee.

I mentioned the time travel aspect earlier, and that manifests itself in this scenario being very tough to do in a small number of runs. There’s a good chance you’ll do more runs in this than earlier scenarios, and if you get annoyed by repeating certain instructions a few times over then this’ll really bug you, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist with these games, so if I can run through again and improve each time, giving myself more chance of reaching the end with a near-perfect run then I’ll take it. It’s one of the things I really liked about Estrella Drive and started to miss as the scenarios became easier to complete in just a couple of run throughs, so I for one am pleased to see that time hopping style of play come back with such force.

One final thing to note is the sticker that sits proudly on the box stating this is for mature audiences only. Let’s not get too worried about that – TIME Stories has never been a game that can be considered child-friendly, and while there’s some nudges towards drug use and nudity there’s nothing that’ll make you throw the game back into its box in horror. It’s an odd choice to finally plonk that sticker onto a scenario when some of the previous ones have been a bit gnarly at times, but unless you’re incredibly easily offended it’s not something you need to concern yourself about.

So Estrella Drive is, for the reasons above and a whole host of reasons I can’t explain without ruining it for you all, one of the better scenarios you’ll find so far. The storyline is great, the time travel aspect works beautifully and while the drop in puzzle solving and combat might grate on some, I enjoyed the chance of pace that this one offered. It’s still not the space sceario I desperately want, but it’s an excellent addition to the TIME Stories family.

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