One genre that always surprises me in the amount of devotion and love fans have for it is point-and-click adventures, specifically those in the style of the LucasArts adventures of the nineties. Don’t take that the wrong way: I’m not surprised people love these games, just surprised by how passionate this love is!
One great example of this in 3 Minute to Midnight, a point-and-click adventure currently in development by Scarecrow Studios, based in Ireland. I saw the game in action at PAX East this year and it absolutely radiates love for the genre and a passion for making a super high quality puzzle adventure
3 Minutes to Midnight is Scarecrow Studio ’s first adventure game with its development led by Jan Serra . It is a classic point-and-click adventure game telling the story of Betty Anderson… [who] can’t remember who she is, but has bigger worries—like a doomsday plot threatening to wipe out the human race. Join Betty to crack the conspiracy that starts with a bang and ends at 3 Minutes to Midnight.
First and foremost, this game is absolutely gorgeous. Done in what the developers are calling “hi-def cartoon art”, every scene is full of detail, colorful and characterful to a level I’ve seen in few AAA projects. In talking with game director Jan Serra, it became very clear that this is a point of pride for the team, one of their major production hurdles and their major investment in creating a game that matches their vision. The effort shows, and with the promise of a diverse cast of characters and locations to visit, I am fairly sure 3 Minutes to Midnight‘s artistic direction will end up being a very major selling point.
As I mentioned above, 3 Minutes to Midnight is very clearly inspired by LucasArts adventures like The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle and it doesn’t hide it. The game is full of that very unique balance of point & click gameplay and absurdist humor that defined that era of the genre, and in the small slices of the game I’ve seen, it’s a feeling that’s been wonderfully recreated and preserved.
The core of 3 Minutes to Midnight revolves around Betty Anderson, a plucky protagonist (though the game will have two playable characters). The game is set in the 40’s and is full of retro nods, which just add to the nostalgia. The demo on display at PAX East revolved around a side story (no spoilers!), but had plenty of wacky characters to get invested in.
There’s a little girl with split personalities, a “talking” raccoon and a diver hunting a monster hiding in a lake. One of the most interesting things about the game is however how the team has handled puzzles. Too often, point-and-click games fall into a certain logic, where only one incredibly specific solution is accepted by the game, even if there are a few possible solutions. 3 Minutes to Midnight manages to strike a nice balance between the obscure and the obvious that I haven’t seen before.
3 Minutes to Midnight is unlike other point-and-click games in that it lets you actually try certain solutions that are on the right track. While many other point-and-clicks will give you some version of a “I don’t think that works” or “I don’t want to do that”, 3 Minutes to Midnight will actually have the characters work through some actions that are close to what you might actually need to do.
There’s fewer overt clues than you might expect, and this ends up creating a series of puzzles that feel surprisingly realistic as you work through them, despite the bizarre and cartoony setting. 3 Minutes to Midnight puts a fair amount of trust in you as a player. For some this is going to make the experience feel like a well earned reward, but it could be a source of frustration for others who manage to get particularly stuck.