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60 Parsecs! Indie Spotlight

60 Parsecs is an indie text-based adventure, from the developer Robot Gentleman, and sequel to the cult hit 60 Seconds. Similar to the format of their initial game, you have 60 seconds to grab as many supplies and crewmates as you can before you begin your journey of survival. Do you have what it takes to find a new home and survive? The sci-fi setting of outer space is what grabbed my attention since I haven’t played the previous game. You begin by dashing to the escape pods of an exploding space station, while In the previous game you had to survive in a bomb shelter due to nuclear fallout. Fun fact, a parsec is a unit of distance and is equal to about 3.26 light years.

The initial 60 seconds of a new game are the only time you directly control your character while frantically grabbing food, medicine, and a variety of resources. The rest of the game is point and click, as your choices you make as captain will determine the survival of your crew. The initial 60 seconds are crucial to how the game will play out. Should you prioritize cans of food, in the form of soup, which are lighter and you can carry more of, or do you choose to save a person who in the panic will die if left by themselves? There is no right answer to these questions and each playthrough is drastically different based on these initial choices. You can choose to go it alone, with fewer mouths to feed, but saving crewmates are also beneficial as they each have different attributes and can help with unforeseen issues. Crew mates can also go out on expeditions and explore unknown planets to gather more resources. Even if you do start with the exact same crew and supplies the game is randomized and plays out differently each time.

The gameplay is based around old-school text-based adventures, or those old choose your own adventure books that give you options and tell you to turn to separate pages depending on your choice. As the captain of this escape pod, you are required to make one action before choosing to end the day, by using a terminal and interacting with the on-board AI named ASTRO. As the days go on, you also get access to crafting and sending crewmates on expeditions as well as monitoring the hunger, sanity, and health of your crew. In the initial stages, soup will be your priority but you encounter times you need a communicator or weapons only to regret salvaging them earlier for more soup.

This game has so many choices, random encounters, and various character attributes, that I can see someone easily investing a solid 50-70 hours with this game and still not see everything. I spent 1 and a half hours in my first introductory game surviving 40 days, and after that, you have access to different game types with different objectives. Such as surviving with a full crew, gaining crew loyalty, successfully making attribute based decisions, or survival mode, trying to survive as long as possible.

A game like this wouldn’t work if the writing wasn’t its best feature since you will be reading all the text, and I’m happy to say that it doesn’t disappoint here. The on-board AI that will be talking to you, asking for your decision, and giving you the outcome the next day is funny and has a personality of its own. The unique 2D art style was also a major selling point to the game. The colors are bright, and light-hearted despite the gravity of the situation. Duct tape can be used to prevent catastrophic disasters, and sock puppets can restore a person’s sanity. Since the game is a text-based adventure, many of the big events that happen on your journey are described the next morning after you make your decision and are not visualized in the game. However, it achieves a good balance by reflecting the events in your story. For example, time passing, hunger, injuries, supplies, and the different planets you can land on are all drawn beautifully. Even rarer events, like taking in an injured alien, are reflected accurately in your ship the next day.

In this day in age with modern games pushing graphics and physics that are almost lifelike, it is great to see a game like this that goes back to the days when gamer’s relied solely on their imagination. While many games have moved toward adding options that personalize the player experience in meaningful ways, they still can’t accomplish what games like this can do. Each time you start a new game in 60 Parsecs you are experiencing a new set of challenges, where your decision will determine your fate and that of your crew.

I haven’t played the game enough to give a review, as I haven’t even seen a small fraction of what the game has to offer. I’m glad I found this game, as it brings new life into a genre of games that many people haven’t been exposed to. It seems like there are a ton of 2D indie sidescrollers that are often getting many accolades, but I find it hard to get invested in some of those games. Based on what I’ve played so far, I can see why the previous game 60 Seconds was such a cult classic.

60 Parsecs is now out and available on Steam. I would love to see this on consoles where more games will get a chance to play it. Its currently $15, which is a no-brainer and I would easily recommend this game to everyone interested.

Thanks for joining me for this game spotlight. Leave feedback on the video or comments below. See you guys again soon, have a great weekend!

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