When comparing Escape: The Curse of the Temple vs T.I.M.E. Stories, the Slant community recommends T.I.M.E. Stories for most people. In the question“What are the best co-op board games?” T.I.M.E. Stories is ranked 7th while Escape: The Curse of the Temple is ranked 12th. The most important reason people chose T.I.M.E. Stories is:
T.I.M.E. Stories is unique both idea-wise and gameplay-wise. You could consider it a game system rather than a game itself – you basically play through multiple different scenarios based on the same rules and mechanics. It’s reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure game where players solve a huge puzzle together, except T.I.M.E. is a co-op board game. A loss is considered a reset, and you can use the valuable information you learned in your playthrough in your next runs. There’s also an interesting “save-game” feature that you can use to stop the game and continue from where you left off the next time you come around. It’s done by placing the components in the box in a specific way – there are compartments that represent inventories, “time points”, health points, and the current room you’re in.
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Since Escape: The Curse of the Temple is played in real-time and the players are taking actions simultaneously, there’s never a dull moment. You’re constantly doing something - rolling dice, moving, placing gems, talking with your teammates, trying to rescue each other, etc.
The game is played while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack that includes atmospheric sound effects for extra immersion. Every three minutes a gong sound plays, which means you have to run for the starting chamber. If you don’t reach it before a door-shutting sound plays, you lose one die for the rest of the game, so this always leads to some gripping moments where players are frantically rolling and re-rolling dice.
Not only does Escape have three purchasable expansions - Illusions, Quests, and Traps, but there are also two expansion modules in the base edition - Treasures and Curses. These expansions make the game more challenging and add to the replayability of it.
If you’re playing with the treasures, then some rooms have treasure in them that you can claim by rolling the correct symbols. For example, a treasure can be a key that lets you teleport to any tile, or a door tile that lets you connect chambers that don’t have direct connections.
If you’re using the curse module, then you must draw a curse card when you enter a chamber with a purple mask. A curse can, for example, make you play the game with one hand on your head, or permit you to speak until you break the curse by rolling the right symbols.
Pro Adjustable difficulty
There are some ways to make the game a little easier or harder, which is great for adjusting Escape for the group you’re playing with. You can add or remove gems - they determine how easy it is to escape the temple from the final chamber, the bigger the gem pool, the more difficult it is.
The content in both the purchasable expansions and the included expansion modules can also be used to make the game more challenging. They add more elements to the game - things you can find in chambers, things you must do, etc. For example, the “Curses” module can lead to you finding a curse that makes you play the game with one hand on your head until you manage to cancel the curse.
Pro Short playtime
Escape is played while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack that marks the beginning and the end of the game. Due to this it’s easy to grab and quickly play through because you can know for sure that it won’t drag on for too long.
Pro Lots of engaging cooperation
The game has a lot of fun, social, and cooperative interactions between players. It can only be won if all players manage to escape, which encourages you to work together and help your fellow adventurers.
The biggest cooperative aspect of Escape is saving “locked out” players. A player can get locked out of actions if they have rolled five black masks. A black mask makes you set the die aside until someone on your tile rolls a golden mask to counteract two black ones. Basically you will be racing against the clock, exploring, and placing gems until someone next to you locks themselves out, which then forces you to go save them.
Pro Not complex
The rules of Escape: The Curse of the Temple are very straightforward - the whole game consists of rolling dice to perform actions, making the game very easy and accessible to people of all ages and gaming backgrounds.
The game takes place in real time, players receive five dice and play while listening to a 10-minute soundtrack. They simultaneously roll dice to move, explore, activate gems, and assist other players. Each action requires rolling specific symbols. You keep exploring tiles until you discover the exit chamber, which requires you to roll a specific amount of keys to exit. The amount of keys required can be reduced by placing gems in “chamber” tiles.
If a player rolls a black mask, then he must set that die aside until he rolls a golden mask that can counteract two black masks. If a player gets in a situation where they have rolled five black masks, then they are “locked out” and must wait for another player to come around to their tile and roll a golden mask to unlock their dice.
T.I.M.E. Stories is unique both idea-wise and gameplay-wise. You could consider it a game system rather than a game itself – you basically play through multiple different scenarios based on the same rules and mechanics. It’s reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure game where players solve a huge puzzle together, except T.I.M.E. is a co-op board game. A loss is considered a reset, and you can use the valuable information you learned in your playthrough in your next runs.
There’s also an interesting “save-game” feature that you can use to stop the game and continue from where you left off the next time you come around. It’s done by placing the components in the box in a specific way – there are compartments that represent inventories, “time points”, health points, and the current room you’re in.
Pro Great artwork
T.I.M.E. Stories looks very impressive. The box, the gameboard, and all the components (apart from cards) feature a white, minimalistic, and sci-fi-ish design, but the really striking stuff is in the scenarios. Most of the art comes in the form of panorama location cards and characters cards. Each of the official scenarios is designed by a different team of artists, which creates huge variety in the aesthetics.
Pro Mechanically simple
The basics of the game are quite easy to understand. After setting up the gameboard, choosing characters, and mission briefing, players arrive in the first location and the panorama view of the room is revealed.
When you arrive, you choose which card you wish to examine and read the information on the back of the card. After that, you can spend your “time points” to take one of three actions – move to a different card, roll for something, or do nothing. When your time points reach zero, the scenario is over. If you didn’t manage to beat it, then you must restart it from scratch and keep doing that until you win.
Pro Official scenarios still developed
The creators of T.I.M.E. Stories are still working on future expansions for the game and play testing fan-made content for potential printings.
T.I.M.E. Stories really pulls players in because of the gameplay design and the thematic nature. It’s like a point-and-click adventure game that requires you to solve puzzles by interacting with your surroundings, but in co-op board game format.
Throughout the game you’ll visit many locations and encounter all kinds of interesting stories and characters. Since you are not allowed to show others the event cards you get when you interact with objects or characters, players are constantly thinking along, communicating what they’ve found, and taking note of things to remember.
Pro Good components
The components of T.I.M.E. Stories are both fine-looking and durable. The gameboard itself is a big, sci-fi-looking surface with dedicated spaces for components. There are many types of cards – character cards, locations, maps, items, etc. They are all made of thick cardstock. The player markers are quite unique – they are wooden cylinders with colored stickers. The box also includes a variety of small cardboard tokens and special dice.
The whole game is based around rolling dice, so, obviously, you can simply get unlucky with your rolls and create complicated and annoying situations where your teammates have to come and save you by rolling golden masks.
Con Audio can be misheard
It can sometimes be difficult to discern audio while listening to the soundtrack, which can lead to players missing a gong sound and losing dice because of it. This is because there is a lot of ambient noise that blends in well and players are engaged and focused on the gameplay instead of the audio.
Con Requires something to play audio from
While Escape does come with an hourglass, it loses a lot of its charm and suspense when played this way. The game is supposed to be played with a 10-minute audio track in the background, so you need something to play it from - a CD player, a computer, or a mobile app.
Escape is not cheap, and the price can be quite steep for a 10-minute game. The price of the base game starts at $40 and only goes up from there. The expansions cost around $25 each.
Con Not very deep
Escape: The Curse of the Temple doesn’t really have a lot of strategic depth, so it might not appeal to more experienced gamers. You’re mostly going to be making decisions on the spot, and you usually only have two or three actions to choose from after a dice roll - keep exploring, place gems, or go help a teammate. The expansions help alleviate this issue a little bit by introducing more concepts - treasures, curses, other objectives to work towards, etc.
Con Not replayable
Once you’ve finished a scenario, there’s little real reason to return to it and play the game again because you will have already experienced the unique stories and solved the puzzles.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Similarly to many co-op board games, it can be hard to gather the same people to see a game of T.I.M.E. Stories through. The fact that the first couple of runs will probably be unsuccessful don’t really help the situation.
Con Not very accessible
While the game isn’t necessarily difficult, chances that someone will finish the scenario on their first run are very slim, which could turn away many newcomers. It can also take approximately two hours to finish a run and five to six hours to finish the scenario.
Con Very pricey
The base game retails for around $50, which is a big investment for only one scenario and the components. Moreover, each official scenario goes for an extra $20 - $30, so you should know if you’ll make the most of your purchase.
Con Can get repetitive
Once you run out of “time points” you must re-run the entire scenario. While you will have the knowledge of ways to solve many puzzles, it can be irritating to blast through the same situations you’ve been in.
Con Luck-based elements
The game requires you to roll dice to finish some encounters, which can be a huge turn-off to a game that basically requires you to solve a puzzle in a limited amount of time. The dice-rolling mechanic makes the overall gameplay much slower and can lead to some frustrating moments when you crack the puzzle but just keep getting unlucky rolls.