Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Seconds to Live reminds me of old casual PC games like Rodent's Revenge or SkiFree. It provides simple mechanics and visuals with increasingly difficult challenge scenarios that force players to apply knowledge and reflexes in the hopes of avoiding a chicken-killing car. It's bizarre, unsightly, compelling, infuriating, and satisfying all at the same time, so it's definitely unique, but it's certainly not for everyone.
Playing Seconds to Live involves controlling a chicken avatar as it races around a map. As it moves, it draws a trail behind it that lays down a road for a car to follow. The object of the game is to last a certain number of seconds without getting run down by the car. To make things even trickier, the chicken isn't allowed to cross any roads without dying. If players survive through the level, points are calculated and added to a running total that puts players on a leaderboard as they compete for real money. So yea, like I said, this is a weird game.
In practice, Seconds to Live's mechanics make it play kind of like a modified version of Snake, except that instead of avoiding their own bodies players are avoiding cars and roads. There are additional elements present, like power-ups and the ability to overlap footprints before they become roads, but across each level the goal is always the same: survive for X number of seconds and maximize the score by completing levels back-to-back and finishing as far ahead of the enemy car as possible.
As mentioned earlier, Seconds to Live features a unique leaderboard system that rewards top players with real money. The money awarded depends on which of the three difficulties are completed. At the time of this writing the easiest difficulty rewards a player with $100, provided they maintain their high score by the time the competition ends on January 11 at 5pm (EST). Playing through the game, the possibility of earning money for my efforts was certainly compelling. I'm interested to see how long competitions like this hold up, though.
As a free-to-play game: Seconds to Live is ad supported. Between levels, banner ads appear on the bottom of the screen but they are largely unobtrusive. Players also have the ability to spend points at the beginning of each level to decrease the amount of time they have to survive against the car, but thankfully there is no "pay for points" system implemented here.
In the end, Seconds to Live is a curious game. It looks old, but is trying something new with the way it tries to engage and compel players. It is hard to say exactly how successful it is just because of how weird it is. For some players, Seconds to Live might be a passing curiosity, but for others it could be what they'll be playing all year. For me, while it certainly is notable for its strangeness, Seconds to Live feels more interesting as an experiment.