I'm a sucker for Alternate Earth sci-fi, but also for Time Travel, so I bought the latest Time Travel game du jour. I sat down with my friends Jeff and Jim to play two sessions of Escape from 100 Million B.C by IDW Games today.
In Escape, in the world's first time travel expedition, there was a malfunction and the time machine led by the professor and his intrepid bunch of adventurers are left stranded on the lip of a volcano, with time machine parts and equipment strewn all over a prehistoric Gwangi-like valley 100 Million BC.
The stalwart adventurers have to thus venture forth into the boonies filled with dinosaurs and retrieve the time machine parts and equipment and bring them back to the expedition leader, the Professor (or as I started to pronounce it during the game "Perfessor" in a bad New York accent), so he can fix the time machine to get back to the.. uh.. future.
However, the accident has destabilized the time space continuum, causing time storms to happen, with time rifts opening up, flinging people from across the centuries back. So, on top of finding and getting the parts and equipment strewn about, you also have to find these time castaways, convince them to come with you, and escort them back to the proper time rift they came from and send them back.
Escape is thus a multi pick up and deliver game in a time travel theme.
The longer these time castaways are back in 100 Million BC, or are killed, or the more equipment left behind, even if you get the time machine repaired, the greater the time paradox occurs. When reaching a certain level of time paradox, this cooperative game will be lost. Even though you might repair the machine and get back, the more paradox points on the board, the more the future is altered.
The time castaways range from historic figures..
to the not so historic..
If a historic figure is killed or left behind if the time machine is repaired, more paradox points are added than with a nobody, which makes sense.. For example, if JFK is killed, 4 paradox points are added vs this Big Lebowski dude (4 vs 1).
The equipment that the adventures can find and use is varied, from the mundane like running shoes to super weird stuff.. Of course, it's not clear how this equipment got back there.. Would a time machine expedition carry an MG-42 and powered armour, or were they flung back in time like the castaways?
Like the castaways, some equipment is worse off to leave behind should the expedition fix things and get back.
It's important thus to find everything in the equipment deck and bring it back, but some paradox points are puzzling. I can understand leaving Carbonmesh armour behind to be found by archaeologists and ancient alien theorists in the future to puzzle over and cause a paradox, but leaving a candy bar (3 vs 3 paradox points) has the same effect..
Anyways, the adventurers start in the middle and go exploring..
They soon run into carnivorous dinosaurs
and aquatic dinosaurs..
You have the choice of fighting them, scaring them off or running away. If you run away, they stay on the board to roam around randomly with the potential to come back and harm you, or worse, kill a time castaway...
If you kill them, it further destabilizes the time stream, with the possibility of opening up more time rifts (and thus more castaways that need to be rescued). The best solution in most cases is, if you have the right equipment, to scare them off (e.g. a pistol shot over their heads) where the dinosaurs thus go off the board to be reshuffled back in the deck..
The adventurers also can run into non-dinosaur adventures, with the possibility of finding some parts, or alternatively, doing something seemingly harmless that can further destabilize the time stream (e.g crushing some eggs)..
If an adventurer gets knocked out (not ever killed), the professor beams them back to the time machine in the centre as their emergency bracelet beacon is thus activated. The act of beaming, as you can guess, further destabilizes the time space continuum..
As you head back with the time machine parts, you slowly rebuild the time machine. Everyone and all equipment must be back on the time machine, and all castaways sent back through their time rifts, before doing so, else (you guessed it) more destabilization.
|Adding time machine parts back to our time machine.|
You can see then, that the game is filled with the time-travel theme, in the best comic book style. If you know the time traveling genre, you can tell the game designer is well versed in it.
However, he kept with a tongue-in-cheek theme with the game conclusions, which was okay I suppose, but did not endear me too much at the end. After playing some hours, it was not that funny to find out after winning both games, that our future was altered in cheeky fashion. In game 1, we went back to a future where humans ate insects, and in the other, carried towels (a Hitchhiker's guide joke).
The production values are fine.. nice thick board, nice art, good components.