The Time Tribe is at once an interesting and hard to review game. It’s an episodic, browser-based point-and-click adventure game that is specifically trying to cater to 8-13 year old children. It’s a safe and at times educational experience. It’s free-to-play with the ability to pay for increased access and extra perks. It’s also incomplete, so this review is based on a first look that doesn’t quite get into what the game promises, so keep that in mind.
In The Time Tribe, you control four characters who mysteriously find themselves drawn to a mansion for reasons that they don’t quite understand. It’s a rather standard point-and-click interface (with a few minigames thrown in as well), and you’ll talk to characters, explore various rooms for items and secrets, and undertake quests. For a browser-based game, I was quite impressed with the quality of presentation, with near full voice acting, good visual fidelity, and a robust interface. This looks and plays like a full-fledged PC/Mac game.
The gameplay is solid, and encourages lots of thinking with the puzzles that abound. There were a couple of times where I got stuck when a character was supposed to give me info, but they were still stuck on answering questions on another active quest. Most of the time, the game was pretty good at giving me options depending on active quests, but when it doesn’t, it can hinder progress.
Something important to note is that this is a “free-to-play” or more appropriately “freemium” game. You can finish an episode without having to pay anything. However, there is a limiting factor called Chronos that slowly rebuilds over time. Undertaking most quests will use a good amount of this Chronos, meaning you can’t finish it in one or two sittings. Of course, if you’d like to play more, there are subscriptions available that give you the ability to replenish your Chronos so you can play more in one sitting. They also give you access to bonus side quests available only to subscribers. You have a choice of the $6.95 per month basic subscription, or the $14.95 premium subscription, which includes more Chronos-replenishing currency and real-world items like a real time-key, letters written by the characters, and more. These subscription fees can add up quickly, and the developers will have to update the content quite regularly to justify this cost.
There are a few technical challenges that the Time Tribe team need to iron out still, and at this time the game is still technically in Beta. Everything is done in the Cloud, which is good because your progress will be saved on their servers, letting you pick up where you left off in any browser. However, from my experience, there seems to be no autosave, so your progress is only saved when you log out. That’s not good if you have a period of inactivity and/or lose connection to the servers, causing you to lose your progress in that session. You’re also at the mercy of said servers, which weren’t 100% reliable. Also, the game wants to run at a fixed size, regardless of the size of your computer screen. It was fine on my 24″ iMac, but it didn’t fit on my 13″ MacBook Pro, resulting in having to scroll my screen quite a bit to see everything. Zooming didn’t help as it cut off parts of the game screen, which severely hampered gameplay. If you’re doing a browser-based game, you REALLY need to ensure your game can run on a variety of screen sizes.
At the time of this review, there is only one Prologue episode available to play, and I’d say it clocks in at a solid 2 hours give or take, depending on how much exploring you want to do and the skill of the player (plus there are daily quests available once you’ve completed an Episode to keep you occupied). Of course, none of it involves actual time travel. Yet. That’ll be in the upcoming episodes, so it’s a bit hard to gauge how well that’s handled since it’s a main part of the game, so we’re firmly in “wait and see” territory here. But they’ve established a solid base so far with the Prologue.
The GamerPops Recommendation
Fortunately, the ability to play most of the game at no cost gives you a chance to check out what is so far a pretty solid point-and-click adventure with some correctable issues. It remains to be seen if the subscriptions are worth the price, and it’s really hard to make a call on that without seeing some time travel episodes. I like what I’ve seen so far for point-and-click fans, and I appreciate the objectives that the developers have in providing a fun and educational gaming experience for young children. Owen (9) liked it, and parents can be assured that the content is quite appropriate. If you want to check it out, go to their website and play the prologue Episode 0.