Review – 60 Parsecs!
60 Parsecs! (available now on Steam) asks gamers to survive a space disaster, warding off normal dangers like starvation and injuries as well as more exotic threats like aliens and radiation. Starting out on a space station, the game kicks into overdrive quickly with a frantic minute of running around gathering supplies and personnel to stock the emergency shuttle with before the station blows up.
The countdown to the destruction of the station looming, gamers must choose what to load on the shuttle. Limited space to hold items lends urgency to selections: do you grab another crew member or take four more cans of soup instead? Is a lighter more important than a battery?
Once on the shuttle, the game settles down into a basic ‘choose your adventure’ style affair, with a handful of stations to interact with each day. You can check the results of the previous days choices via the newsfeed station on the left, use the control panel in the center of the room to decide what course of action to take on the day’s mission, and advance to the next day via the panel on the right. In the back of the shuttle there’s a couple more situational stations: the crafting panel, which uses raw materials to create potentially useful items like batteries, sock puppets, duct tape, and soup; and the expedition station where crew members can be assigned sorties on unexplored new worlds.
While the 60-second romp on the space station is engaging, it’s running the day-to-day life on the shuttle that proves the most entertaining in the long run. Using sock puppets to stay sane one day, then fighting off hamster-like aliens using a shovel the next – it’s safe to say there are very few games with this variety of encounters. It’s possible to have flights where absolutely nothing goes right, where key items needed to survive a day’s missions will be the same items broken down the day before to be turned into soup, for example, but the underlying sense of humour to the dialogue keeps things from getting frustrating.
Play sessions will start short and then grow in length as gamers become more accustomed to what they’re likely to see thrown at them. Learning how to properly ration soup, for example, might not be a skill anyone thought they’d need for a video game, but it’s key to sustaining a four-man crew while lost in space. Once that’s mastered, and the role played by some of the crafted items are understood, it’s just a matter of getting a good ‘roll’ on the game setup and a long journey awaits.