T.I.M.E. Stories: Estrella Drive
Teaching Time: 20 mins
Playing Time: 90 mins per session
Setup Time: 20 mins
Value For Money: Mid
Solo Play Review
Estrella Drive is not an inherently bad T.I.M.E. Stories scenario, but it does fail to justify the claims on its box. Personally its probably my least favorite, sadly I'll never know how I would feel about it if it were presented differently.
The cards come in two sections each with their own object collecting "mystery", play consists of figuring out the objects needed and bringing them to the correct location, then repeating. The first section is based on searching and conversation the second violence and searching, but the game lets you switch characters between sections avoiding any real need for careful future planning.
The first major problem I have with Estrella Drive is that there is a disjoint between its description and plot. On the box and in the preview advertising the module it is described as a story "unearthing Hollywood secrets". That might imply investigating studios acting illegally, given its mature audience warning label I was certain it would contain a LA Confidential style story of Hollywood intrigue and blackmail. Apparently to Space Cowboys I'm being insane and "unearthing Hollywood secrets" involves performing a seance to jump into the body of a victim of a Manson family style massacre while in progress. Mechanically its one of the least imaginative in the series with very little in the way of additional rules and much of the engagement with the later part of the "mystery" coming down to the basic combat system.
As far as fulfilling the promise of being for a mature audience it presumably refers to the implication of sex and drugs and the presence of violence and tension. All of this exists in the base set module except that includes insanity, cannibalism, torture, monsters and satanism. However, the base set apparently needed no such warning. The plot itself is no more mature or showing greater depth so it feels a bit like this warning is more of an advertising move than anything else. I return to my often stated complaint with T.I.M.E. Stories as a series that it repeatedly chooses to limit its audience for no understandable reason.
The last and most significant problem for Estrella Drive is its translation. Space Cowboys are a French company and while I might have picked up an early edition their generally descent standard of translation was seriously lacking here with missing words and clumsy phrasing. In short its not a scenario I could recommend, lacking even the genre attraction of previous entries. Finally the scenario has no place within the overall T.I.M.E. Stories story arc so you don't even need to play it for that.