Review: 60 Parsecs Excels in its Comedy and Simplicity

  You’re in space, Earth has gone into nuclear disarray and one of the warheads is heading straight to your ship. You have 60 seconds to pack as many things into your emergency escape shuttle as you can in order to survive the harsh and endless space. What do you bring? Food? Medical supplies? A shovel? A gun? Crew Members? These are the actions you’re tasked with in 60 Parsecs, Robot Gentleman’s sequel to 60 Seconds. This point and click survival game relies heavily on its wit, randomness, simplicity, and art style to catch you eye and keep you playing. The opening 75 seconds of the game are the most hectic, and the only time you’re are actually physically controlling a character's actions in the cartoony and reference filled 2D/3D space. The first 15 seconds let you scope out the ship and the randomly generated supplies before you are in a mad dash to grab the most essential supplies (or in reality whatever you can). While 60 seconds seems like a lot of time to get your bearings, it’s surprisingly chaotic and fun. More often than not I had forgotten to grab enough food or grabbed too many random items. Usually this was due to the faux 3D look of the game impeding my view and random items impeding my way. This little element is a purposeful decision meant to make the game slightly more difficult, making it more difficult to find every item each time you play. After the frantic opening of every game session, the game retreats to calmer more strategy based point and click adventure. Each day of the game, you try to juggle the needs of your remaining crew and the supplies you have to last as long as you can. The game progresses through your decision making and a manual day progression that you have to initiate. It's all relatively simple RPG like elements that are enhanced by the game's writing. Here is where the heart of 60 Parsecs lies, as hilariously dry and absurd story elements (akin to that of Douglass Adams, who is referenced quite a bit throughout) are thrown at you.The off kilter jokes and general silliness of the game's story really sucks you in and invites you to discover all the possibilities in multiple replays, which is the main draw of the game. However 60 Parsecs sways between beautifully random to annoyingly so (which I say lovingly), where tactics that worked in one playthrough are utterly useless in another. In my first session I started fairly well stocked and cared for, but only lasted 18 days in space before exploding on the planet Phonobos. Immediately afterwards in my second playthrough, with almost the same supplies, I lasted 27 days before being killed on the very same planet. It wasn't until I thought I royally screwed up my initial supply gathering, lost a couple crew members, and almost angered some prisoners that I actually had a happy ending to the game 50 some days in. Every session has tons of elements that can change up how things are going to go, so it's best to treat them as their own little bubble in order to maximize the replayability of 60 Parsecs. Beyond the general game-play, 60 Parsecs offers a few new game mechanics to help change up the game-play from its predecessor. While you still need to maintain your characters well fed status with soup, their Thirst setting has been thrown out the window and replaced with a Morale trait that plays well with the new setting. Since you are no long a nuclear family like in 60 Seconds, relationships and camaraderie are much more diverse and interesting in the game. It’s no longer just about just making it through alive, but creating and preserving connections between the characters, especially since it’s imperative to complete tasks--including exploring one of 3 possible planets you end up landing on. There are also three different modes: Survivor, where you try to last as long as you can with a random number of supplies and crew;  Missions mode, where your leadership skills are tested on specific missions in the game; and the Voyager experience which is the full game experience. Another notable difference is instead of playing as a single character through every run-through, you get the chance to play as any one of the 6 astronauts on the ship: the simple minded Baby Bronco; the ambitious and former child athlete Deedee Dawkins, the brilliant and misunderstood Emmet Ellis, former laundry business owner and mother Maegan Mann, the overtly clever and arrogant Zapp Brani—I mean Tom Thomson, and the recently added (12/18) mechanic, April Angelle. All of the characters have varying degrees of agility, intelligence, and strength which are crucial to how you go about you survival plan. 60 Parsecs is definitely an enjoyable game that should be enjoyed in bite sized sessions, but nothing too big. If you're playing for hours at a time the same prompts and missions will undoubtedly pop up and the game can be repetitive. The gameplay is simultaneous casual enough that it's better to come back to the game every once in awhile and deep enough to have you latched onto the screen for a while. And as Youtubers and Streamers have shown, the game is hilariously fun to play along with friends by your side to really indulge in the dry witted humor. 60 Parsecs is available now on Steam. It also happens to be a part of the Holiday Steam Sale, so you can pick up this creative and fun game and it's predecessor 60 Seconds for only $9.90!
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Julian Ramirez