As another expansion for the excellent T.I.M.E Stories, A Prophecy of Dragons had all the hallmarks for an excellent adventure. Cast to a distant world, at an unknown time frame with mythical creatures and no rules which would govern an Earth-based story, this adventure sets you up with something which should have been another jewel in the crown of the T.I.M.E Stories series. But a weird thing has happened… something has gone a bit awry. While there are enjoyable aspects to this, A Prophecy of Dragons has taken a bit of a step back in the enjoyment department, and the concerns that we had while playing the opening two stories have not only been kept alive, but also emphasised a fair bit. It’s still very decent, and still has it’s fair share of wonderful moments, but has a level of frustration not found in the previous titles.
As with our previous two TS reviews, keeping this review spoiler-free will make specifics difficult to explain, but let’s start with the positive: the story itself is excellent. In terms of what happens, how things pan out and some of the events which kick off in the process I can’t have many complaints at all. The artwork, too, is stunning, and you’ll want to see as much of the game as possible just to see what gorgeous imagery is on the huge numbers of cards available.
The problem though is how the story is delivered, in so much as how much awkwardness and inconsistency there is in some of the rules, concepts and finer points in the plot. It feels a little rushed, as if the developers of the story either wanted to get another story out while people were buzzing about the first two, or were perhaps feeling so confident of how things were going that the necessary play testing didn’t quote get as much love and time as it needed. Neither of these things are the case, after all these first four expansions were all created alongside the original game and therefore couldn’t be hindered by (or benefit from) player feedback and ideas, but then maybe that in itself is part of the problem. Newly introduced rules and ideas aren’t really explained well, or are printed on a card which then gets covered up by others. Misprints on the cards make it almost impossible to progress without making assumptions or asking for help online, a process which will almost certainly drop some spoilers into the mix. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the design scene of using cards for everything, and it’ll be interesting to see if Space Cowboys listen to the ideas of players in their future scenarios.
While the idea of alternative worlds doesn’t fit in with the initial time travelling concept as such, I’m more than willing to run with it on the grounds that it could open up some amazing opportunities for story telling, and Prophecy of Dragons proves that it can definitely be used to deliver more great story telling. It’s a real shame that we’ve still got the problems of unclear direction and poorly checked cards in places, and it’s unfortunate that the way they occur this time round has the definite potential to put people off getting through the story.
But even if this isn’t T.I.M.E Stories’ finest hour, you shouldn’t let it turn you away from the whole system. A Prophecy of Dragons isn’t terrible by any means, it’s actually still a great story, but just doesn’t live up to what we’ve come to expect and lacks the polish needed to make it unmissable. It sits below the other two stories as a result, but certainly isn’t one to disregard too easily.
T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons
Available Now, RRP £19.99
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