Review: T.I.M.E Stories – Madame

It’s getting really tough to review the new T.I.M.E Stories scenarios. As the overriding story arc continues to grow, and the importance of playing earlier scenarios increases bit by bit, trying to discuss the ins and outs of scenarios like Madame without dropping huge spoilers is really tough. But there are, I reckon, things I can explain without telling you too much, and in that respect we’ve got a bit of a mix of good news and bad.

It’s been no secret from my previous T.I.M.E Stories reviews how much I like the game as a concept. The range of scenarios which has spawned from such a great idea have been fascinating to play through, even when the actual scenario itself has been slightly weaker. Every time I see a new scenario is due to be released it’s an anxious waiting game to get my hands on it, play it through and see what puzzles, fights or other time travelling chaos awaits me.

Madame was no different. And for a long time through the game it felt like this was going to be a very decent expansion, a story that would’ve stood up alongside others as one definitely not to miss. But towards the end things, for me at least, took a downward turn. Logic seemed to go out of the window, and it felt more like pure experimentation took over. This is fine to an extent, but not when the whole game is riding on it. If the final moments of Madame felt like the rest, it would be right up there with my other favourite scenarios. It’s unfortunate, then, that this is apparently the final scenario in this first main story and doesn’t have the epic ending that you might hope for.

Let’s not give the wrong impression here though; if you’re a fan of this series of scenarios then you’ll still want to play this and will get some good enjoyment out of it. Some of the new gameplay mechanics are really cool and do a good job of squishing some of the smaller grips from other scenarios. Repeating a playthrough is more varied in places now due to the fact that it can be harder (or even impossible) to access certain locations until a later run, giving that exploration aspect a shot in the arm, and having alliances that can work in your favour (effectively acting as an additional resource to access or complete certain things) also gives this a nice novel feeling when combined with the other rule tweaks.

So Madame is one of those weird experiences where you finish it with feelings of intrigue, satisfaction but also slight disappointment. It’s not bad by any means, and the journey to the end will feel great and have you on the edge of your seat at times. It’s just a shame that instead of being knocked off your seat sideways by a blockbuster ending, you’re gently nudged back with a gentle poke. I’d still suggest picking it up to finish off this first round of scenarios, but be aware you might not be in love with the closing moments.

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