When comparing T.I.M.E. Stories vs Space Alert, the Slant community recommends Space Alert for most people. In the question“What are the best co-op board games?” Space Alert is ranked 3rd while T.I.M.E. Stories is ranked 8th. The most important reason people chose Space Alert is:
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the [Space Alert Mission Generator](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boarbeard&hl=en_US) to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
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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.
Pro Each game is unique
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the Space Alert Mission Generator to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
Space Alert is a cooperative based game, something that is not always the case for board games and can be a refreshing change.
Pro Varying difficulty
Various options can be selected to alter the difficulty level of the game, such as the power of internal and external common threats and serious threats. This makes, for example, the monsters you encounter much stronger, adding a whole new level of required teamwork.
Pro Strong theme
Space Alert has a sci-fi theme to it, and the game executes it perfectly. From the aesthetic look of the game to the actions you take, there’s plenty of science fiction – aliens, spaceships, robots, etc. The soundtrack playing in the background during the planning phase also adds a lot to the immersion. For those that are into more of a science fiction game, Space Alert could easily fit that bill.
Pro Good humor
While slightly morbid, the humor contained in the game and gameplay is quite amusing. The resolution phase is also full of humorous moments as the players watch their actions unfold or fall apart. For example, the tutorial book states that the captain must remember to do the “C” action that represents pressing the spacebar on the ship’s computer to keep the lights on.
Pro 1 - 5 players
Can be played as a single player game, or with up to 4 friends, dividing roles accordingly. If you don’t have a full group of 5 players, then the missing characters are androids, which can be controlled by any player.
Pro Simple rules
The very basics of the game are quite simple. Every player has a role assigned to them – the captain, the communications officer, and the security officer. The players take 12 turns in 10 minutes pre-planning actions while listening to a soundtrack that explains all incoming threats. The action phase is divided into three further parts, each of which has a separate deck of action cards. The soundtrack calls out the threats, the endings of phases, data transfers, and communication disruptions, and you must act accordingly.
After the 10-minute soundtrack is over, all the actions the players planned and coordinated are resolved. If the ship is still alive after that, then the game is won.
Pro Fast gameplay
The game takes around 30 minutes to play through, 10 minutes of which is the intense planning phase with the soundtrack blasting in the background.
Pro No analysis paralysis
Turn speed is dictated by the CD, avoiding some players procrastinating on their turns / keeping the gameplay flowing.
Pro Ranked highly on board game geek
With an average score of 7.5 out of 10 and a rank of 155, Space Alert is a positively reviewed board game.
Pro No alpha-gamer issue
Space Alert effectively evades the popular quarterbacking issue of cooperative board games. There’s simply no way to communicate enough useful information to other players in the 10-minute timeframe, so nobody can control absolutely everything. Everyone must efficiently work together and say what they’ll be doing to take care of the looming threats.
Pro Good components
The components of the game should hold up to multiple plays and regular wear and tear. There are a lot of good quality wooden tokens, and the cards are made of durable cardstock. The gameboard and the tracking boards are also quite thick and should endure well.
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.
Con Steep learning curve
Space Alert is not very beginner friendly, and if you don’t properly understand how the game works when you start it up, then you’ll have visible difficulty keeping up with what’s happening in the frantic 10-minute action phase. You’ll also be dragging down the other players because there really isn’t enough time to explain rules when the game is already in progress.
It’s worth reserving an hour to play through the well-designed tutorial book that slowly introduces the complex aspects, so you’ll be ready for the real deal.
Con Requires CD player with speakers
Space Alert is only playable with the included audio CD or downloadable MP3's, without them the game is impossible to play.
Every action you take highly impacts what happens to the rest of the crew, and one tiny misstep can make the whole plan fall apart, which can be frustrating to some. Teamwork and good communication is completely necessary to win.
Con A lot of setup
Space Alert has a lot of pieces to sort through, cards and decks to shuffle and place on the gameboard. It’s not so bad if you decide to play more than one game, but the actual games are very quick in comparison to the amount of setup/takedown time.
Con Can’t be stopped once in progress
Once you press “play” on the 10-minute soundtrack, there’s no interrupting it – no pauses, no rewinds, etc. It’s important to stay focused, not engage in casual banter, and make sure there are no distractions in the background, which can be difficult to manage sometimes.