So last night my group played through the Estrella Drive adventure / scenario for T.I.M.E. Stories. A few things have come to mind I thought I’d share about this sixth expansion, without spoilers. This isn’t a review as much as random thoughts and a sort of warning to those who are thinking of buying it.
From the box (and therefore not a spoiler) Estrella Drive is set in Hollywood in the early 1980’s. Investigators are tasked with investigating a temporal anomaly at a ‘haunted Hollywood mansion’. The expansion also sports a mature audiences sticker and once you delve into the ‘haunted mansion’, it will become clear that was probably a good idea. Like the other scenarios for T.I.M.E. Stories, everything revolves around story elements revealed on cards, tokens and other game components are reused. Estrella brings nothing new to the game in that sense.
So why the need to even bother writing about an expansion that released in 2017? Two reasons, one the translation issues. When you are playing a thematic story driven game it’s pretty important that nothing within the game itself yanks you out of setting / narrative. Whilst Estrella Drive is compelling, the translation on some of the cards had us doing everything from outright laughter at the ridiculousness of it, to actually being stumped at certain explanations. Some of it isn’t even proper english and one important item seemed to have been named wrong. I’d post some of the ridiculous translations to give you a giggle, but I don’t want to flame up regarding spoilers. Suffice to say some of Estrella Drive’s translation is TERRIBLE. Keep that in mind if you are thinking of buying it, because on looking into it, it seems they never fixed the errors going forward.
So the second thing – and this will be vague due to spoilers – Estrella Drive is clearly (VERY clearly) based on a horrific real world event, an event that my entire group – at times – felt very uncomfortable with. Sure the names have been changed, the place as well, but if you have any common knowledge at all of a certain event, it is clear this scenario borrows heavily (HEAVILY!) from it and therefore the explanation on the box of a ‘haunted Hollywood mansion’ is a total misnomer.
As scenarios for T.I.M.E. Stories go Estrella Drive was good (mistakes and real world tie-in aside), but it would have been so much better had it actually gone through a proof reading process AND not so obviously used that event. It’s like the creator just couldn’t be bothered to do the work and thought “ooh edgy story, I’ll use that”. Fail.
There were definitely moments of shock, laughter and dare I say it fun despite these issues. The artwork too is pretty good (we noted some copy / paste on certain things). The story could have been SO good, if only they hadn’t gone THERE and used the idea of that thing and actually written the story themselves.
Have you played Estrella Drive?
What were your thoughts?