T-Minus 30 has absolutely hooked me. It’s quick and easy to learn - but harder to master, and limiting each scenario to 30 minutes adds a profound sense of urgency as you're racing the clock, making you want to play again and again until you've mastered the map. It goes to show that you don’t need an incredibly complex city builder for players to have fun, and the ability to play for hours or even just 30 minutes during lunch, makes this a must-pick-up game.
The gameplay is simple to learn, and the premise is even simpler; you have 30 minutes to build a sprawling city from nothing and rescue as many people as you possibly can. Scavenge the ruins of cities, log forests, mine mountains, and build a fleet of rockets all the way until the buzzer. While the game only comes with 10 prebuilt scenarios, you can keep playing as long as you want with randomly generated maps, too!
T-Minus 30 - Easy to Learn, Harder to Master
While picking up the gameplay is simple, there’s a deeper strategy to how you go about building up your infrastructure. Every game starts the same - you have to build a food source, expand into the map, and build housing so you have workers to log, mine, and scavenge for resources. You’ll have to complete one action (i.e. create food) in order for the next (i.e. housing for workers) to start working, which allows the lumber mill or other structure that requires workers to start gathering resources.
The biggest hook of the game is the choices you can, or don’t have to, make each time. The biggest example is the 3 different rockets you can build. Depending on your playstyle, you could just build a crazy number of basic rockets that need no power, or you could develop a deep infrastructure and pool of resources that lets you build the advanced rockets at three times the size.
From the tutorial to the final map - each scenario presents a different challenge to players. Limited water reduces your ability to build biodomes and renewable forests, while desert land requires that you hydrate the soil before you’re able to build housing and other structures. It took me a few maps before I really grasped the interconnectedness of all the options you can build, but once I did - T-Minus 30 really opened up and my cities became much more complex and effective at saving more people.
T-Minus 30 Games Are Quick
In the gaming world, 30 minutes is a pretty quick “run,” but this forced timer only enhances the experience that T-Minus 30 offers. While most city builders give you all the time in the world, you have 30 minutes to build up enough infrastructure to not only support your collecting of resources but also to be able to place and launch as many rockets as you can cram onto the map. Not to mention, because the rockets take time to fill up, you also have to manage your time - if you’re starting to build rockets with just 5 minutes left you’re not going to be able to save very many people!
I’d be remiss to fail to mention that the soundtrack and sound effects really help in setting the post-apocalyptic-save-as-many-as-you-can feel that T-Minus 30 offers. normally I’ll listen to some music while I play city builder games - I kept the music off just because the music in-game is worth listening to. Placement sounds in city-builders are usually pretty great, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about placing certain buildings, and the advanced rocket’s sound effect, in particular, is quite good.
There’s very little to gripe about when it comes to T-Minus 30. The entire gameplay loop is solid and well thought out, the sound design is killer, and there’s tons of never-ending content for players to enjoy. Being a competitive person, the leaderboards for the main maps were cool to see, but I’d love to see some sort of a weekly or monthly “challenge” map to compare my skills against others. Beyond that, there’s enough replayability that even that complaint is incredibly minor.
T-Minus 30 - The Verdict
It’s rare that we (or I) talk about price in a review, but if you enjoy city builders of any kind, and want a game you can play for 30 minutes, or 3 hours - T-Minus 30 is a no-brainer to pick up at the price it’s at. It’s not often that I have trouble putting down a game for an entire weekend, and while the initial content is light, the ability to generate new maps and share them with the community allows for infinite possibilities for your next scenario. Dejobaan and Gray Alien Games have created something really cool here, and I hope we see more.
TechRaptor reviewed T-Minus 30 on PC with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Fast-Paced Gameplay
- Unlimited Replayability Through Randomly Generated Maps
- Easy to Pick Up and Play
- Limited "Campaign" Maps