There are many titles that have the backdrop of the End of the World in gaming. Often, we see our hero surviving in one manner or another after the bombs have dropped, attempting to rebuild society and fending off those looking to make the most of the carnage. 60 Seconds! takes a slightly different approach; here, we are warned of the impending carnage and given 60 seconds to gather as many resources from our home before escaping into the bomb shelter underneath. Whatever we manage to scavenge will have to last, and it’s here that the majority of the game plays out. While this aspect is quite engaging, it can feel a bit too random at times, making a failed play through feel unfair.
There are a variety of modes to choose from, allowing us to play just the scavenging part, just the survival part or both. When scavenging, we need to pick the items to save carefully. There are far more in the house than it’s possible to collect, and each one left behind will nag at you – what if I’d collected more soup instead of the gun? Is the radio really that important (hint:yes, it is)? Each new game sees the house layout and item placement randomised too, so it’s not a case of simply memorising the best route. Furniture will imped your progress, and you can only carry four items at once before needing to drop them off at the bunker. Some take up more than one slot too, the mad dash to collect things made even harder by a suitcase filling your inventory on the opposite side of the house. Whether you play as the Father or Mother, the rest of the family also need saving – quite why they can’t walk themselves to the bunker isn’t explained. The more people saved means more chance for exploratory missions to the surface, but also more food and water consumed each day. Those 60 seconds go by in the fastest minute of our life! We also need to make sure we’re near the bunker at the end of the minute; miss it, and all the collecting will have been for nothing as we die in the explosions.
Successfully make it though and the real game begins. We enter into more of a choose your own adventure style affair, with choice based options popping up each day that naturally have repercussions down the line, one way or another. The goal is to survive long enough to be rescued and escape the bunker, though that’s easier said than done. Each day begins with a brief rundown of our survivors state, whether they’re hungry, thirsty, tired and so on. Next we’ll need to choose who does or doesn’t eat/drink and patch up any wounds if able. Following this, a semi-random event may pop up. It’s these that form the backbone for our ability to survive – the scavenged cans and water will only last so long, after all.
One may see us choose to send someone up top to scout for supplies, while another has our bunker visited by potentially friendly people looking to trade or the like. How we respond to each of these events is up to us, and offers up a decent variety that make choosing an option is tough. It may seem sensible to accept goods left at your door, especially when supplies are low, but what if it’s a trap? We’ve watched enough Walking Dead to know that truly friendly survivors are rare, but what if these ones are? After making a decision the outcome shows up in the next mornings diary entry. While that’s about it for gameplay (we never actually leave the bunker, instead all expeditions are carried out on our behalf), these entries are well written, often funny and full of references to pop culture with a little wink and a nod. Coming out of an event with extra supplies or an essential item is gratifying, but failing one is equally as frustrating. There doesn’t appear to be any way we can influence the outcomes of a choice, instead relying on random luck to decide our fate.
I found this to be my main point of contention with 60 Seconds! A good run can be ruined completely by one bit of bad luck, and while we ultimately chose the option that brought it upon us, having some idea of the potential outcomes before choosing might have helped us weigh them up a little better. In all my runs, I never managed to escape successfully; my best bet was ruined when a random earthquake destroyed my radio, severing ties with the military who were planning on rescuing us. Of course, in a real world scenario anything can happen, so it’s not exactly unrealistic, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Spending a good hour or so making progress only for the RNG to screw us left a bad taste in the mouth.
Played in short bursts 60 Seconds! has enough charm and wit to make the end of the world at least seem like a bit of a laugh. Sadly, reality kicks in sooner or later and we realise that our luck can be snuffed out at any moment. When we die yet again due to factors we couldn’t control, it becomes harder and harder to muster up the will for one more go.