60 seconds until the good bits.
Video games have unusual ways to encapsulate the dreadful experience of being enclosed in a safe place whilst trying to survive the war (or the nuclear holocaust). There are games like Fallout Shelter, in which there is a bunker full of people for you to maintain – all with an underlying sense of dark humor. Others, like This War of Mine, creates an oppressive environment, in which you must try your best to make the best decisions that may keep your family alive. Then, there is 60 Seconds!, a game that is somewhat in-between these two experiences – if you ignore the annoying part from where the title comes from.
The premise of 60 Seconds! is very simple. You are the head of a stereotypical American family during a fictional Cold War. Everyone’s biggest fear has just become reality: the army sounded the alarm that means a nuclear assault is imminent. You then have 60 seconds to reunite your family and gather as many resources as you can and bring them all to the bunker. If you manage to do that in time, the survival period begins. Here, you must ration supplies, make decisions concerning the day-to-day events, and do your best to make your family survive until the army arrives.
Gameplay-wise, 60 Seconds! is divided into two very different segments, with totally distinct art styles, control schemes, and quality separating them. The first moments of each match, in which your objective is to gather your family and supplies, are portrayed in a very bland 3D style, within a top-down perspective. You must walk through your house gathering highlighted objectives with A to bring them to the bunker. You have only four slots and some items (like your family members) often occupy more than one. This means you’ll need to do many incursions through the house as you can, but this is a very annoying activity. The controls are very slippery, seemingly for a humour effect, so you’re constantly bumping into stuff. Fortunately, it doesn’t take more than 60 seconds for the good part of the game to begin.
Getting inside the bunker begins a survival adventure that follows a similar path to the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels. With nothing more than a cartoonish 2D representation of the bunker and your family, all the action takes place within your diary. There, you have detailed descriptions (sometimes dark-humoured, sometimes sorrowful) of the daily events of the bunker. You then must choose how to react to each event, and having different items with you (like a radio, a map, or a gas mask, for instance) may open up unique options.
The survival tale of your family takes much more than 60 seconds, and is definitely the best part of the game. With time, you start to care more and more about each individual, and the procedurally generated narrative is surprisingly interesting and intriguing. Surviving through the nuclear apocalypse is a hard task, so after your third or forth attempt, you’ll start to recognise repeated events on your daily routine. Still, this survival tale is much more compelling than the awful 60 seconds you must endure until it begins.