PAX West 2018: 60 Parsecs!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

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The first thing I wondered when I saw developer Robot Gentleman’s 60 Parsecs! for the first time was whether they used the word “parsec” correctly. A parsec is a unit of distance equal to roughly 3.25 light years, but ever since Star Wars and the “less than 12 parsecs” line people tend to use it incorrectly like it’s a unit of time. I was somewhat concerned when I saw that the first part of 60 Parsecs! involves a 60-second time limit, but it then supposedly launches the player to a planet 60 parsecs away, so it does actually use it correctly.

The game is a spiritual successor to 60 Seconds! where you have a minute to gather supplies to bring into a fallout shelter before an atomic bomb lands, and see how long you can hold out. 60 Parsecs! is a similar concept, replacing the nuke and fallout shelter with an exploding space station and an escape ship, giving you a minute to gather supplies, food, and other crew members before jumping into the ship and escaping. From there the game is divided into days, with each day consisting of making one major decision, crafting new supplies or breaking down old ones for materials, rationing out what supplies you have left, and once you’ve landed, exploring the planet. The health of your crewmates depends on the decisions you make, and there’s a relationship system where they will grow to like or dislike you depending on how you treat them as you slide gradually into ultimate failure.

It really is just a bid to see how long you can hold out. Before too long your supplies will run dry, you’ll be out of soup for your crew, and everyone will go insane and start hating each other as they slowly die of hunger. I believe my run in the demo lasted around 20 days, most of which were helplessly watching as my captain gradually wasted away once his crew was dead. It’s still entertaining to watch, with the game lending a comedic slant to everything even as everything completely falls apart around you. With the game’s fun, cartoony art style and sense of humour, even the bleakest situations are still entertaining, making it less painful to see your vague, hastily-assembled plan failing horribly.

In spite of all the despair and failure I went through, I still found 60 Paresecs! an enjoyable experience. I can see the appeal of gradually refining your approach and surviving progressively longer and longer, as well as actually getting the chance to explore the planet instead of having the crew member you sent just die the first time you try it. Not knowing too well what to expect, I found myself pleasantly surprised, even if it doesn’t look like it’ll be anything mind blowing it should still be a fun little game to play and see how far you can get. There’s not long left to wait for it if you’re interested in checking it out, with the game set for release on September 18 on Steam.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.