Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, iOS (reviewed)

It isn’t often that a game include two completely different forms of gameplay and manages to make them equally compelling, but such is the case with developer Robot Gentlemen’s new game 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure, a quirky adventure/survival title in which you must quickly gather essential supplies needed to survive the aftermath of a nuclear attack, and then must actually survive through said aftermath. It may not be the most technically complex or aesthetically expansive game out there, but 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure is perfect for gamers who like to plan ahead, strategize, and make tough decisions in the heat of the moment.

Grab What You Can!

As I said above, there are two distinct phases in a typical session of 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure, and the first phase has to do with the “60 Seconds” portion of the game’s title. Playing as an ordinary family man named Ted, you have 60 seconds to hurry around your house, grab whatever supplies you can, and bring them over to the trapdoor leading to your underground bomb shelter before time is up. Among the essential supplies you must grab are cans of food and bottles of water (can’t go hungry or thirsty after all), medical kits (in case you get sick), weapons like a fire axe or a rifle, miscellaneous items like a gas mask (for venturing outside your shelter) or a radio (so that you can keep track of what’s going on in the outside world), and, of course, your fellow family members including your wife Donna, your daughter Mary-Jane, and your son Timmy (since they are apparently unable to walk over to the trapdoor on their own).

The house is large enough that you can’t grab every single item in the time you are given (you can only carry a limited number of items at a time before dropping them off at the trapdoor), which means you have to quickly decide on the fly which items you’ll need the most. This opening process is made even more tense by the fact that the locations of different items is randomized for each playthrough, though every item you can grab is made easy to spot by a bright white outline, so you only have to do a minimal amount of searching to find a particular item. If Ted isn’t near the trapdoor when the 60 second timer is up, you immediately lose, so make sure you manage your time well.

Playing The Waiting Game

Once you’ve secured as many items as you can, the game’s second phase kicks off. This phase is less dynamic than the first phase, with the player following a progressive timeline of the family’s struggle to survive while down in the fallout shelter. Using a survival journal interface, the player moves from day to day, rationing out supplies to each family member, deciding whether or not it’s risky enough to venture outside for more supplies, and dealing with randomized events as they pop up. Whereas 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure’s first phase is all about quick, short-term zaniness, its second phase is all about meticulous, long-term planning and risk-balancing.

The supplies you grabbed during the first phase will last for only so long, which means that, sooner or later, you’ll likely have to send a family member or two out to forage for more supplies. Each family member can only take one item with them when they head out, and that item could mean the difference between them making it back safely, or perishing out in the apocalyptic wasteland. You could send a family member out with a weapon so that they can protect themselves against bandits and creatures, but then they could come back sick with radiation poisoning since you didn’t send them out with a gas mask. Sending them out with a map can help them find their way around, but if the military sends out safe zone coordinates via radio and you don’t have that same map to pinpoint the location they’re referencing, you’ve just cost your family a way to escape to safety.

The randomized elements of both gameplay phases ensure that no two games of 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure play out the same exact way. You might wind up running out of supplies ten days in and succumbing to hunger, or you could have your 50-day run come crashing down when your entire family gets sick and you don’t have any medical kits, or you could get extremely lucky and have just the right combination of items to secure your escape after only a few days. Some players might find it frustrating to have the concept of random luck affect so much of their time playing 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure, but it’s still incredibly fun to see just how long you can last, especially whenever you come back from the brink of complete disaster thanks to a well-timed random event or a particularly fortuitous scavenging expedition.

For my review, I played 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure on my iPhone, and it was admittedly a little hard guiding Ted around the house in the first phase using touch-based controls. However, with some practice you can eventually make it into a serviceable experience, and I imagine it’s even easier on PC or Mac where you can use either a keyboard/mouse combo or a controller. Either way, if you’re looking for a solid narrative-driven survival game with a dash of 3D house-scavenging, 60 Seconds Atomic Adventure should suit you just fine whether you’re a hardcore min/maxer or a more casual gamer.