I’m slowly creeping through the trophy room. The stuffed lion seems to be keeping watch. Looking closer, I notice that his eyes are artificial and emit laser beams. So this is the trap Professor Evil has set for us. Luckily we’ve already disabled the laser beam trap. Nothing now protects the Excalibur Sword. Carefully I lift the lid of the display case and remain petrified. What are those noises? They are approaching steps! Professor Evil has changed his mind. He seems to want to take a detour into the room after all. The decision is a difficult one: try to grab the sword quickly or try to flee? The time is already short.
Welcome to the world of Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time!
Yeah, time travel! Or is it?
The title seems to be program – Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time – it can only be about time travel. Anyway, this was my first thought when I heard about the game. So I unpacked the promo DeLorean from Colt Express and off we go. But then came the rude awakening! The time machine is just the setting. You will look in the game for a real time travel mechanism in vain. The evil and very confused Professor Evil has stolen various valuable treasures from all possible eras of human history. Our task now is to get these treasures back from him and return them to their rightful owners. Done. This is all the story the game needs. Who we are and whether we belong to a secret time travel organization is not explained. You’ll have to spin your own story here.
Us versus the Professor
The game is completely cooperative. After you have chosen one of the five available characters, you can start playing. On the game board there are different treasures in different rooms. Each treasure is secured by at least one trap. You have to turn them off to get to the treasure. The switches for the traps are located in other rooms. Some of them are already deactivated – the evil professor is just a bit scattered – others we still have to deactivate. Once you have managed to deactivate all traps that secure a treasure, you can take it.
If you succeed four times, you have won. Sounds simple and manageable. But it’s not! You’re playing against the clock without mercy. But this is not a real-time game. Each treasure is only available for a certain amount of time – number of rounds – and the fewer traps guard it, the less time you have. The reverse is true: More traps, more time, but also more difficult, because Professor Evil is still there.
If you don’t make it, the Professor Evil gets the treasure. If he has four treasures safe from you, you will lose the game.
In addition to the time problem there is also the apparently diffuse Professor Evil. At the end of a round, the professor moves – controlled by a dice roll – through his estate. He closes doors that you have already opened once. If he finds switches for traps that you have already deactivated, they will be reactivated. If he runs into your arms in the stupidest case, he will throw you out of the house and you can start over again.
Tick tock, time goes by
But not only the Professor Evil is your enemy, but, as described above, time itself. The all-determining clock in the center of the game board shows you exactly how many rounds you have approximately time to secure a treasure. Approximately? The clock seems to be part of the time machine and it has some side effects. After moving the Professor, you will roll the dice for the hands of the clock to determine the time passed. So the hand can move twice instead of once. Or you may have less time to recover a treasure all at once. It’s a close thing, so you might let one treasure go to the professor to focus on another. Because to retrieve every treasure is almost impossible.
Not a game for strategists
Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time, like many modern games, thrives on the non-winning and the joy when you finally get it. But the game can be very unfair to you: Due to the luck of the dice, the Professor Evil moves more than arbitrarily through his house. It can happen that he blocks rooms and simply prevents you from deactivating the important switch.
But it works the other way around, too: With a bit of luck, simple treasures will be drawn and the Professor Evil will stay in the rooms you are not interested in anyway. Brisk you have the four treasures together and are the winners. The game also leaves you enough room to find your own level of difficulty.
The playing time is very pleasing, because actually no game lasts more than 45 minutes. If the dice are really against you, you can start a new round quite quickly. Paired with beautiful graphics, we enjoyed Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time as a lucky, cooperative game. During our game rounds, especially few players have had their fun with the game. For many players the luck factor has a rather negative effect and therefore the game doesn’t really suit them.
Unfortunately Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time is only available in English so far. The actual game material is however almost language neutral. The description of the characters’ abilities, however, is not. Of course one of you could help here now: In my opinion such a thing always opens the gate for alpha players, especially in cooperative games, and thus reduces the fun of the game.
If you can live with the luck factor and the language barrier, Professor Evil and The Citadel of Time is a fast, fun game without great strategic depth for in between.