3 Minutes to Midnight
E3 2018 Hands-on Preview
Liz Maas Liz Maas

PC, XB1, PS4, Switch, Mobile

Scarecrow Studio

Scarecrow Studio

Graphic Adventure


US Spring 2019

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It's a strange world where your only seat is a... toilet.
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All those military vehicles? Just a mirage. Really.
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Is it me, or do broccoli Cheetos sound not all that exciting?
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Stood up at the altar for forgetting wedding attire, maybe?
"Despite the seemingly dark setting, 3 Minutes to Midnight is a colourful title with lighthearted characters."

It seems so common to go the investigative route when it comes to creating a point-and-click adventure that, at this point, developers have to put a rather unique twist on it to make it stand out. Enter Scarecrow Studio and their indie sci-fi title, 3 Minutes to Midnight, which hopes to do just that.

Set in the 1940s in a small town in New Mexico, players take control of protagonist Betty Anderson, who can't remember a thing... and neither can anybody else in town. What they do know is the dam blew up, and here the game starts with Betty trying to obtain a set of keys so she can go and investigate.

Here begins the set of puzzles that make the mystery even more mysterious, and where you'll come away with more questions than answers... because as you enter the camp in the demo, it's never going to be as easy as the staff just handing over dam keys to a stranger. Instead, you'll have to earn them by way of chores, investigations, and general prodding while making your way around the camp. Starting with a schizophrenic camp counselor and a raccoon who's very defensive of his trash can, things only get weirder with a questionable basement and a scuba diver who vows to take down a swamp monster who we did not quite get to in our time with the title.

Players will spend a lot of time talking to and quizzing the locals (think Mass Effect) for clues and general info. Then there are plenty of items to look at, pick up, combine, or use on the way to solve the puzzle of the moment or to proceed forward literally or figuratively. After making a new discovery, there is lots of back and forth between NPCs and places of interest.

Though we only met a few characters in the demo, many more appear later on who have backstories of their own if you choose to explore them. There are many other areas to explore as well, such as a secret military base in the middle of town.

Despite the seemingly dark setting, 3 Minutes to Midnight is a colourful title with lighthearted characters. Voicing for the main character felt awkward at times, and the onscreen text did not always match the lines voiced, but the developers acknowledged that issues such as this will be addressed before final release. The puzzles were not always intuitive either, such as putting citronella through a clothes wringer to create oil — but you've got to be creative at camp, right? Still, it will be interesting to see Scarecrow's take on the genre when 3 Minutes to Midnight releases in Spring 2019.

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