It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterdays. -Boyz II Men
Recently, I got to play the latest and last title in the ‘white’ cycle of T.I.M.E. Stories adventures. Madame was recommended to experienced players only and as the final adventure in what has become one of my favourite games of the last 10 years, I was pumped to see what it had in store. Before I go any further, let me state that I know that T.I.M.E. Stories is definitely divisive with both its champions and detractors. I don’t think its a perfect game, or one that I’d pull out on a super regular basis, but in limited doses, I’ve had a ton of fun in my experiences.
Space Cowboys have announced that while this marks the end of the white cycle, there are many more T.I.M.E. Stories games in the works. Revolution is the title of the new series. They are designed to be much more stand alone that the previous iteration. Players will be able to get individual boxes without having to own the base game or having played any other titles. While I’m sorry to see the end of the much loved white cycle, I do think this new approach will make the game much more accessible to new players. Now people who are interested in trying the system will be able to so.
Now on to Madame.
Because of the nature of these type of mystery, puzzle, time-travel games, I can’t really say too much about the adventure itself. Although I will strive not to go into spoiler territory, I do urge you not to read any further if you want to go into this adventure with a completely clean slate.
Right off the bat, experienced T.I.M.E. Stories players are going to notice a big difference with this adventure. Your trusty (and occasionally crusty) boss Bob has been replaced with a smooth talking corporate man, Mike, who doesn’t seem to be being completely honest with you.
The mission sends you back to 1673 France, just outside the Palace of Versailles. As usual, you inhabit the bodies of people from that time period to help blend in with your surroundings. In Madame, their skills include wits, strength, and an ability to take an imprint of other people you may come across known as Temporal Memory. When you meet residents of the time period, the have a Temporal Imprint number. If the Temporal Memory of the agent or agents on the space meet or exceed that number, an imprint is made and that character and they become a receptacle that you can inhabit on future runs. You end up collecting a bunch of different imprints on your runs, and you’re going to need them. Some of the people come with Fleurs-de-Lis on them and certain locations of the map are not available unless you have enough Lis on your characters.
The characters also might have affiliations. These are represented by different icons on the character cards like a rose or a fly. Having the right icons on the characters on the team can be the difference between advancing in the mission or not.
For a lot of the mission, Madame plays out like a normal T.I.M.E. Stories adventure, albeit with a lot shorter runs. You return to mission control with a more and more frustrated Mike. However before too long it becomes clear that there is a layered mystery taking place both in the past and the future at the same time.
I think that’s about as much as I should say about Madame. If you check out my review of Estrella Drive, you’ll see my ranking of the different T.I.M.E. Stories adventures that I’ve played. I would probably rank Madame just ahead of Estrella. It’s not my favourite, but it was fun to return one more to the game that I found so revolutionary when I first discovered it. I’ve heard mixed feelings from other people who have tried this one, so unless you are a big fan of the series, it might be best to enter with lowered expectations.
I’ll be excited to try out the new series when it debuts.