HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewThree Minutes To Eight Review

Three Minutes To Eight Review

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I must admit, I have historically been a sucker for Groundhog Day-esque stories. For that reason, I jumped at the chance to play Three Minutes To Eight – a mind-bending sci-fi adventure where the main character relives the minutes leading up to his death. By inserting myself into the story, however, I soon found that I experienced many of the same frustrations the protagonist must have felt caught in his seemingly neverending loop. Luckily, I found that the game’s many charms were enough to make up for any headaches I incurred along the way.

Designed to mimic the transitory state of mind one experiences in the moments between dreams and reality, Three Minutes To Eight is a trippy pixel art adventure with some puzzles baked in for good measure. The game generally operates as a point-and-click narrative PC title, but it makes the jump to consoles smoothly by cycling through intractable elements using the controller’s shoulder buttons.

three minutes to eight review 1
It’s Three Minutes To Eight…

The vast majority of Three Minutes To Eight has players exploring the main character’s apartment and street for clues while talking to an eclectic cast of neighbors, probing them for insights concerning bizarre recent events. Interacting with NPCs is crucial to uncovering clues and advancing through the story, but timing and items gathered also impact the story. As various aspects are randomly generated, chance factors in as well.

From the moment I booted up the game, I was hooked. The home screen features a note from the developer explaining how they came up with ideas for Three Minutes To Eight as they would fall asleep each night, and I found these words to be both an endearing introduction and an eerie tone-setter.

During my first handful of loops, I was intrigued by all of the events that played out the same as before – and captivated by the moments that altered from previous runs. A change of weather, my neighbor being on a different floor, the appearance of my girlfriend, whether or not I even have a girlfriend, and even a new food vendor at the end of the street were satisfying deviations that I felt compelled to investigate.

Minutes change only as the player travels from one room or area to another. While in the same room, players can spend as long as they want to explore without fear of advancing time, but time will always jump ahead precisely one minute when moving from one area to the next. This sort of dream-world logic serves as an interesting strategy mechanic to keep track of and a foreboding reminder, as the main character is destined to die at 7:57 during each loop.

three minutes to eight review 2
The end is nigh

Three Minutes To Eight offers plenty of clues through NPC dialogue and item descriptions to find a path forward. That said, some secrets feel a bit too well hidden. Triggering new areas and sequences occasionally requires a highly specific combination of events to unlock. Without a guide, I imagine I felt a bit like the main character – aimlessly wandering time loops until I unwittingly stumbled across a solution rather than cleverly uncovering it.

I obtained a plunger and immediately thought this would unlock something in my bathroom. Well, that is too “obvious,” barks out the main character. Similarly, tasers can’t be used on NPC, but apparently, one specific object will react to it. Sometimes, an item would perform exactly how I thought it would, and other times, it left me perplexed. Instead of coming up with a plan and executing it, I felt the need to try out every device in just about every possible situation. More often than not, as opposed to having an aha moment, I thought to myself, “How was I supposed to come up with that?”

Like clockwork, however, directly following the moments in which I was at my wits’ end with Three Minutes To Eight, I found that the game had thrown a curveball at me to hook me right back in. After several loops, I found that every NPC in the game mysteriously vanished. Five-ish hours into playing, I noticed it was snowing outside for the first time. Deviating actions almost always lend themselves to uncovering a new secret, and oftentimes, the game will randomly showcase something new. Pacing-wise, this is a genius tactic that led me to complete several endings of the game in just one sitting.

The endings themselves are a bit of a mixed bag, unfortunately. While the “Developers Ending,” which requires breaking the loop, feels like a natural conclusion, most of the other nine seem ripped from entirely different sci-fi tales and ultimately ring empty to me. While entertaining, this collection of trite genre clichés left me feeling unsatisfied.

three minutes to eight review 3
Fried chicken at Three Minutes To Eight? Yep please!

Still, through writing, performance, and charming pixel art, each character carved out an identity of their own that I was able to ascertain in just one brief interaction. The lived-in, but unfamiliar nature of the world created an eerie feeling that stuck with me throughout my playthrough. Aiding in this atmosphere is a moody synth score that fits perfectly with the game’s grungy sci-fi aesthetic.

The initial moments of Three Minutes To Eight, as well as its strong premise, were enough to keep me hooked throughout, but a lack of a clear enough path forward, at times, had me spinning my wheels. While movies and television often gloss over some of the more monotonous bits of time loop stories, or simply condense them into a montage, Three Minutes To Eight asks players to fully experience the genre with all its quirks and flaws. Three Minutes To Eight proves to be a worthwhile time for those interested in the narrative structure, but frustration is likely imminent for anyone hoping to unlock all ten endings.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • A compelling mystery that leaves the player with a constant sense of wonder
  • Moody pixel art
  • Syncopated synth music creates a tense sci-fi thriller atmosphere
Cons:
  • Highly specific sequences are required to unlock various secrets and endings
  • Only a couple of the multiple endings feel like satisfying conclusions
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Assemble Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 21 December 2023 | £12.49
Bobby Anhalt
Bobby Anhalt
Bobby has been an avid fan of video games since the '90s. While Bobby has a real soft spot for Metroidvanias and JRPGs, he is a true genre-agnostic gamer who will give just about any title a chance. The only thing he spends more time doing than playing games is writing and talking about them. He has been covering the gaming industry for several major online publications since 2015.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>A compelling mystery that leaves the player with a constant sense of wonder</li> <li>Moody pixel art</li> <li>Syncopated synth music creates a tense sci-fi thriller atmosphere</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Highly specific sequences are required to unlock various secrets and endings</li> <li>Only a couple of the multiple endings feel like satisfying conclusions</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Assemble Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 21 December 2023 | £12.49</li> </ul>Three Minutes To Eight Review
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