Through the looking glass: 60 Parsecs!

By Sci-Gaming Oirschot

Life on a space station can be stressful, especially when someone is launching nuclear missiles at it. You have 60 seconds to grab as much supplies and or crew members to take with you on the escape pod. Oh, and make sure you bring enough soup…

In 60 Parsecs! It’s your job as captain to make sure you and your crew survive 60 parsecs away from earth. You will need to provide food, make sure everyone stays sane and in good health. Besides crafting new items that will help you on your journey, you will also make difficult choices on life threatening situation, such as space pirates and malfunctioning air conditioning systems.

This game is all about making the right choices.  What will you take with you on the escape pod? You’ll need rations, but soup won’t fix that leaky pipe. Resources come in handy to craft that gas mask you need, but you can only have two hands to carry stuff to the escape pod. Crew members all have different skills, but they all need to eat… and you’ll need to decide in 60 seconds or nobody survives the nuclear missile impact. The game lets you run around and search different rooms on the space station, to find the resources you need. Once you are out of time, you’ll board the escape pod and begin your journey through space.

I am no rocket scientist

At first, this is pretty stressful. How are you supposed to know what resources are valuable on an escape in space? Don’t stress too much, because you will play this game over and over again. Don’t be fooled by the colorful bright look: This game is about grim permadeath space survival with the soundtrack to match. You will fail on your first couple of attempts, as you find out that bringing just soup won’t cut it. As you play along, you will learn what each item does and what consequences your actions have. This is a roguelike type of game where you can die because of one wrong choice. For example, I died because an alien satellite asked me to prove that I’m not a robot. Using Intelligence rather than strength, my crew listed the first 100 digits of pie. This made the aliens think we are robots, and killed us for it. This is just one of the examples of a bad choice that abruptly ends your playthrough. At first I thought that it was just about making a lucky guess, but this game tests your wits.

Choose wisely….

You choose your captain at the start of the game, and each person has his or her own skills. There are three skills: Agility, Intelligence and Strength. Your agile captain may be successful in an intergalactic dance off, but will struggle with complex calculations. You may encounter the same situation during your playthroughs, but the outcome differs from captain to captain. Luckily you can always check your log to check which skills your captain has, because his or her skill level changes during the game.

Phone home?

Trying to survive is one thing, but a good captain needs a goal. Your main goal is to establish communications with another species. Once you hit first contact, you are able to choose a landing spot and explore the new world. You can go on expeditions to find out more about the world you crashed on. From there maybe you can plan the flight home? Your captain also has his own goals, based on his or her character. Emmet Ellis is smart and wants to make five successful intelligence decisions. Baby Bronco wants to be friends with three crew members. It all adds to the depth of this game and gives it a good replayability.

Crew members need to stay fit in order to be helpful. No one wants to go outside on an empty stomach. Soup is your survival food. You can’t have enough soup. You can craft soup from resources, you can find it on expeditions, there may be soup lying around, hidden away behind a vent. Hungry people make poor choices, starving people are even worse at decision making. Flesh wounds and broken bones are also things you want to avoid, or at least fix as soon as possible. And then there’s mental health. Being in space in a ship the size of a shoe box, it’s not hard to lose your cool. Make sure everyone stays sane by having a sock puppet to comfort you and be able to talk to yourself without others judging you.

DIY

You can fix anything with duct-tape. But how do you make duct-tape in space? Luckily, the escape pod has its own crafting table. Here, you can craft new items, recycle items you don’t need to get back some resources, upgrade items or the crafting table itself and repair broken items. The three types of resources can be found during expeditions.

Autopilot

The game lets you use up to four computers on board every day. You can use the crafting table, the captain’s log, the expeditron and the computer in the middle of the escape pod. The captain’s log gives you an update on the outcome of your actions from yesterday, as well as a status update on the wellbeing of your crewmembers. The computer in the middle gives you a daily decision. Once you are done, you can flip the switch located on the right side of the ship and continue to the next day.

After a while, this can feel like you are playing on autopilot. The story is text based, so you will do a lot of reading. It fits the 50’s post-apocalyptic theme, but you soon just scan for the losses and gains. Sometimes there isn’t really something to choose, because you don’t have the items needed to attempt to fix a situation. So the only choice you have is to sit and wait, and hopefully survive another day. Because of the randomness of the decisions, the outcome of the expeditions and the occasional space pirate intruder, you can’t really plan ahead. Resources can break when used, so you need to make another sock puppet every time someone loses his or her mind. This can feel a bit annoying at first, but after a few playthroughs, you get a feel for which item you need frequently and you can prioritize your item crafting.

That’s no Moon!

If you do take the time to read and try to complete the various objectives, this game offers a different experience every time you play. Cycling through the days can become a bit repetitive, especially when you can’t finish the current objective, but the story progression and dark humor keeps you interested for at least a couple of playthroughs. Soon you will find yourself questioning what secrets the world you landed on has and won’t stop until you reach at least one ending (yes, there are several endings, not counting when you perish). The game is available on PC through Steam, Humble and gog.com.

Get 60 Parsecs! on: Humble Bundle (affiliate link)


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