60 Seconds! review - Nuclear bomb, nuclear family
| 60 Seconds

Think of all the simple tasks you'd struggle to complete in 60 seconds.

Getting out of bed in the morning. Getting dressed. Deciding what chocolate bar to select at the vending machine.

Well, how about bundling your most valuable possessions and loved ones into a fallout shelter after a Communist nuclear assault?

That's what you're contending with in 60 Seconds!, as your cosy little suburban life is turned upside down and you're granted only one minute to choose what gets saved and what is left to the ravages of fallout.

Decisions, decisions

As the patriarch, do you opt to save your entire family? Do you act by the code of youth before beauty, ladies first, or similar cliches?

Or do you decide that ultimately, a rifle is more valuable than another mouth to feed?

It's serious business, but presented with a touch of slapstick as you bumble around your home in a top-down view using awkward virtual stick control, bashing into walls and furniture as you save family members and pick up supplies.

The ungainly movement actually works here, though, making everything feel that bit more panicked and human. It reminds you that you're a normal guy, not an action hero.

These are crucial choices that will stick with you, and yet - like so many truly important decisions in life - you're forced to make them in the most clumsy and hurried manner imaginable.

60 seconds later

This minute of gameplay is perhaps the most crucial, then - it's right there in the title, after all - but it's merely an introduction to life in the shelter.

Taking up the bulk of the game is a simple, mostly text-based resource management phase where you're tasked with eking out an existence on rations of canned soup and water for as long as possible.

And it's here that your decisions really come home to roost.

Took just one other family member, or even went it alone? That'll mean you can get by on less food and water, but fewer hands on deck when it comes to expeditions for resources on the radiation-riddled surface.

Opted for a draughts board over a rifle? You won't be winning any fights with it, but it might help you stave off insanity for another day.

The end is nigh

It's a relentlessly bleak experience, despite some moments of levity in the writing, that keeps coming up with new and unexpected ways to screw you over.

Every decision feels weighty, and every new day comes with new pitfalls that could result in your death.

Sending a family member onto the surface could yield some great rewards, but they could also return with radiation sickness or worse. Staying cooped up's not a viable option either, as declining health renders you unable to get out.

The art - cartoonish and bold - illustrates this beautifully, allowing you to chart the physical and mental deterioration of your survivors as their morale and energy are slowly, inevitably sapped.

In short, your death is pretty much guaranteed. The only question is when, and how.

And there's something in this moody, wryly humorous take on a well-trodden theme that captures that hopelessness brilliantly.

60 Seconds! review - Nuclear bomb, nuclear family

Equal parts funny and distressing, 60 Seconds lets you tackle the end of the world your way
Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.