The survival genre is one that’s seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, with a new wave of indies leading the charge. One wouldn’t think that a game intentionally designed to be difficult would be much fun, but there’s certainly plenty of satisfaction to be found in overcoming the odds and managing to eke out a victory through shrewd resource management. It’s a fine line to walk, though, and while 60 Seconds! aims to provide a slightly different take on this genre, it ultimately misses the mark and fails to provide much in the way of satisfaction.
Gameplay in 60 Seconds! is split into two primary components. The first half, in reference to the game’s title, gives Ted -the Dad - about a minute to scour the house in search of essential supplies and other family members. Water, food, weapons, games, tools and whatever else you grab must be deposited in the shelter entrance before you can grab more, and the layout of the house and location of items changes with each game. Whatever you do manage to grab, it certainly won’t be enough for the survival section that follows.
Here, Ted and whoever else he grabbed before the time was up, must ration out the supplies as efficiently as possible, while occasionally sending out a scout to find more stuff. With each day, new events happen—like bandits trying to get in or a family member coming down with a disease—and you’re often called to make some hard choices between who lives and dies. This portion of the game is primarily oriented around text; against the still backdrop of your starving family sitting in a shelter, you read through journal entries and decide on plans of action.
While all of this makes for an interesting take on the survival genre, 60 Seconds! is very much the product of good ideas marred by poor execution. In the scavenging portion of the game, for example, the controls are frustratingly floaty and unresponsive, meaning that about half of your precious time will be spent watching Ted walk into walls and get hung up on furniture. One could argue that this is part of the experience, but it feels like a cheap way of adding artificial difficulty to an already challenging enough game. It’s no fun when the character on screen doesn’t necessarily do what you tell them to, and in a game such as this where every little action is critical to one’s success, tighter gameplay in this area is a must.
The survival portion also suffers, though for different reasons than the scavenging side. Your choices don’t have enough of an effect on events, and this can make the entire affair feel like a waste of time. For example, we had one run where we had no choice but to send out a scout to get more water, and that scout didn’t end up coming back at all, which led to the rest of the family dying. Nothing wrong had been done, the game just decided not to let us win. A key element of the survival genre is giving the player a fighting chance, but 60 Seconds! weighs success much too heavily on randomized chance. It’s frustrating when you lose even after doing everything right, and the game provides little incentive for you to keep trying.
In terms of replay value, 60 Seconds! provides plenty of options, though these all ultimately boil down to the same central concept. Several modes are available that focus on specific parts of its mechanics, such as a mode that gives you random supplies and tasks you with surviving in the shelter for a as long as possible, which does do a good job of introducing new rules or twists on the core loop. In-game achievements are also present, rewarding you for surviving so many days or picking up so many supplies, and these can help incentivise you to keep aiming for new objectives in different runs. In short, for those of you that are hooked by the gameplay, there’s enough supplementary content present to keep the experience from getting tired too quickly.
From a presentation perspective, 60 Seconds! fails to impress in any way, although it does a passable job in its own right. A decent comic book-like look is adapted - with plenty of bright colors and thick lines present - that helps to give things some style, though the look has a certain air of cheapness to it that’s hard to ignore. It doesn’t help that the scavenging portion of gameplay, which is in full 3D, completely ditches the comic look in favor of a plasticky, chunky look that makes it feel like more of an afterthought. Presentation isn’t everything, of course, but it’s glaringly obvious when a proper art direction wasn’t executed right, and 60 Seconds flounders in this regard.
All told, 60 Seconds! is a disappointing addition to Switch's growing library and one that we would recommend you take a pass on. Although the idea at its core isn’t half bad, there’s very little here that we would say is done well, and given that there’s no shortage of excellent games on the Switch eShop, you’d be better off spending your money on something else. Big fans of survival games might find some enjoyment in this one, but we’d recommend you pick up The Flame In The Flood instead, or wait for more survival titles to arrive.