If you read my review of A Prophecy of Dragons, you'll know I was disappointed with the previous adventure for TIME Stories, the time travelling cooperative game which I still believe is one of the best cooperative board game experiences on the market. Thankfully, I am happy to say that Under the Mask is a return to form, a fun puzzle and adventure that gets everything just right.
TIME Stories is a mystery and as such your experience will rely on not knowing the puzzles ahead so I'm going to attempt to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. However, there will be some very mild spoilers from here on, so if you want the Under the Mask to be a complete surprise then come back later.
In this adventure the time travelling detectives move way back into the past to ancient Egypt as you are tasked with returning King Tutankhamun’s golden mask to his pyramid. You're thrown into the middle of the River Nile (on a boat of course) and know absolutely nothing about how you are going to complete your task. So begins another great adventure of exploration and piecing together information to solve the mystery.
It wouldn't be TIME Stories without mixing things up a bit and in Under the Mask introduces a new and unique game mechanic. In this adventure you can swap between receptacles (characters) mid run. This adds another layer to the puzzle, meaning you no longer need to just have the right items in the right place but now you also need the right character in the right place at the right time.
Even with these new options the difficulty of Under the Mask is just right. It took my group three runs, exactly, as we finished the final task with not a single TU to spare. We missed a few clues first time round but on the whole where able to piece together the puzzle based on the information available. I'm hearing that other players are taking 3 to 4 runs to complete.
I’m also very happy to say that we didn’t encounter any rules or translation issues with this adventure. I’m hearing some stories that other players are having issues but we didn’t come across anything that needed us to look up a FAQ or argue about the rules.
On the whole Under the Mask felt more like Asylum than any other adventure, with the game concentrating on the puzzle with a sprinkling of challenges to keep the game varied and throw in the odd time sink. It stands up as being a solid puzzle.