It’s obvious from all the adventure game posts published on Later Levels that I’m a big fan of the genre. So when fellow enthusiast nufafitc over at Emotional Multimedia Ride returned from his recent trip to Gamescom in August and recommended I take a look at upcoming point-and-click 3 Minutes to Midnight by Scarecrow Studio right away, my interest was piqued.
It was fortuitous then that the title was set to appear at this year’s EGX and we made it our second stop at the event after playing the latest version of Flotsam. What we saw in the playable demo was a game that has the potential to contain an awful lot to appeal to adventure lovers who have a fondness for the classics. As written by nufafitc in his post: “If meeting a girl with twitching eyes, three different voices, and holding a machete in her hands is any indication, then this should be a crazy ride soon.”
The story is set in the roaring 40s and starts when plucky teenager Betty Anderson is woken by an explosion in the night. Whatever blew up in the dessert has wiped her memory clean but she has a lot more to worry about than amnesia: a town full of people who aren’t what they seem, a corrupt mayor, a secret military base, the mafia and a potbelly pig with a vendetta. And then there’s just the small problem of a doomsday plot counting down to the extinction of the human race.
If this sounds like it could be a plot straight from a LucasArts game, you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s not surprising then that 3 Minutes to Midnight is inspired by traditional adventures like such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road. The developers say their project combines point-and-click gameplay and the absurdist humour of the ‘good old days’ with high-definition cartoon art, an intuitive interface and a compelling mystery.
We did indeed bump into the girl with the machete mentioned by nufafitc during the section we played at EGX and our objective was to convince her to hand over a key. One of her personalities however wasn’t too trusting of us and so we had to complete several tasks to prove ourselves – including cleaning the latrine (nice) – which involved picking up objects in the environment, turning them into other things and combining them in our inventory. Oh, and talking to a disgruntled raccoon who wouldn’t share his dinner.
We didn’t come across anything too illogical and there were a couple of moments of trial-and-error which didn’t feel out of place. If this is any indication of what the rest of 3 Minutes to Midnight will be like then we could be in for something which hits the sweet-spot when it comes to the level of challenge. The title features the simplified control scheme we’ve come to expect nowadays, with a left-click to move Betty, interact with objects and talk with people (and raccoons) and a right-click to examine items more closely.
In the promotional material we were given by Pavlina Kacerova, it mentions that gamers will be able to play as both Betty and Mayor Eliza Barrett. Protagonist-switching isn’t something I usually enjoy in my adventures and is the reason I could never get into Maniac Mansion; but I’ll withhold judgement on this until the game is finished. What does intrigue me however is the fact it contains over 40 other characters each with their own backstory, so you can scratch the surface to get just the information you need or go further and find out who they truly are.
The other thing I don’t normally like are cartoon visuals and if it hadn’t have been for nufafitc’s recommendation, there’s a chance I might have passed this game by. That would have been a mistake because I actually ended up being surprised at how much I liked 3 Minutes to Midnight’s graphics. At first glance they appear rather simple, but as you become absorbed by the gameplay you start to notice the level of detail contained within them. The colour, gradients and textures make the environments a pleasure to explore.
Scarecrow Studio are looking to announce a Kickstarter campaign for their project early next year to meet a mid-2019 release date. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a game which inspires both nostalgia and fresh mysteries, so they’ve already got their first backer lined up.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.