60 Parsecs! is a sequel to the game 60 Seconds, a game I have not played. In both games, you play as one of the few survivors of an apocalyptic event. You are given a brief period of time to gather resources before heading for safety. Not unlike the player character, I am entering this situation unprepared and short on time. Seems fitting, so let’s talk about 60 Parsecs!
60 Parsecs! is an unusually structured game, unusual but interesting. The opening of the game is set in a space station orbiting above the Earth. The station is about to be destroyed so you must gather resources and crew members as you have sixty seconds(ish) to get to an escape pod and make a break for it. There are cans of soup, weapons, batteries, all kinds of things you might need to survive your journey. The key word is “might”, because what comes next is not entirely predictable. Decision have to be made, do you bring other crew members for more people, meaning more skills and more mouths to feed? Or do you try to go it alone, hogging all the resources and hoping your lone survivor has the skills to make it.
Once your time is up and you escape in the pod, the game proper begins. On board your escape pod, you’ll find your player character, any other survivors, the resources you managed to salvage, and a few different buttons and screens to click on. On the right, a count is kept of the days as they pass, with a lever you can pull to advance to the next one. Before you do that, you should interact with the computer in the centre of the room. Here you communicate with the ship’s A.I. These daily communications are where your story plays out, the computer tells you what goes on from day to day, what the survivors are doing and what they need. When events like alien interactions and reaching new planets happen, they happen here.
Essentially, the game becomes a mix of survival management and a text adventure. As simplistic as this all sounds, it’s quite effective. Your characters have hunger, sanity and health stats. You feed them soup, patch up their wounds and do your best to keep everybody sane, happy and entertained. This is where your scavenging comes into play, how many cans of soup you grabbed and all the other resources you gathered will determine how well you can keep your people alive. What’s new in 60 Parsecs! is the ability to craft items from basic resources your characters will produce over time. Each character adds more resources, which gives you the dilemma of people producing resources vs. people using up those resources.
What drives the plot along is the text adventure portion of the game. The text adventure format means the game can tell an interesting story that develops as you play, with a wide variety of possibilities for each playthrough. The events in the story take a visible toll on your characters and the ship. If your survivors are injured, sick or hungry, you can see it in their designs. As time goes on their hair can get messy, beards grow and clothes become ragged.
With so many possibilities comes many different ways for the game to end. Your characters can survive long enough to meet friendly alien civilizations and forge a new life there, but dying on the way is just as likely an ending to your story. So long as you can get your survivors to safety, your job is done. This game really lives and dies on it’s ability to make the journey interesting, and for the most part it does it well. The writing is light and fun, even when your characters are getting messed up. Some interesting and unusual things can happen along the way, there’s enough variety to make a couple of extra playthroughs worth it.
All in all, this is a fun little game. While re-playability is something this game is built on, I can’t guarantee it’ll bring you back for many more playthroughs. Sure, the panic of a few initial failures might drive you to work through to a better ending, but once you get the loop you may not feel the need to come back for more. At €14.99 on Steam I’m not sure I can recommend this game to absolutely everyone, but I recommend it to anyone who takes in all this information and feels like this is the type of game for them.