Three Minutes to Eight Review

Check out our review of Three Minutes to Eight to find out what we thought about solving time loop mysteries in a twisty cyberpunk world.

Three Minutes to Eight made me consider the relationship video games have had to the popular ‘time loop’ narrative trope. 

Video games, as a medium, lend themselves well to time loops. The nature of playing a game over and over again, especially as you try to win each time, arguably created time loops before time loops became a narrative device. 

Three Minutes to Eight Review

In an attempt to break free of this looping nature and perhaps sit closer to more linear story formats, narrative video games have typically ignored their looping nature (roguelike games notwithstanding). Should you die, you can retry from your last save – and everything that happened before can be neatly forgotten. “That’s not how it happened,” as a certain storyteller protagonist might interject.

Three Minutes to Eight is an experiment at creating a narrative game that not only explores its looping nature, but thoroughly exploits it to tell a story (or a hydra of stories) that is only possible in the video game medium.

Three Minutes to Eight Review

In this time loop mystery, you play as an unnamed protagonist doomed to die when the clock strikes 19:57. Time works strangely in this world, as you find that minutes advance only when you exit a room, or smoke a cigarette. Nevertheless, when the clock strikes the titular time, your protagonist will drop dead due to one reason or another.

And then, he’ll wake up once again, getting up from his nap to the annoying buzzing of his flat’s intercom.

How exactly do you break this doomed protagonist free of his time loop and free him from his circle of death and return? The answer to that depends on how you play this point-and-click adventure game. 

Three Minutes to Eight Review

Once you’re up from your nap, you’re free to explore your flat, your apartment building, and the cyberpunk street right outside. As you use items to manipulate your environment and talk to the characters around you, you may come to realize the truth of your predicament, leading to one of the game’s many endings. 

All of this is, of course, provided you can unravel the truth before you die.

Three Minutes to Eight Review

Even after you tease the strand of truth and uncover what’s causing the time loop, you’re invited to resume the cycle and this time, do things a little bit differently to uncover another possibility that explains the time loop.

There are several such possible endings which you can pursue, depending on both your actions and random chance.

Three Minutes to Eight Review

If all this sounds confusing – then good – because it is confusing. Three Minutes to Eight is a thoroughly experimental game that, in taking the time loop formula to point-and-click adventure games, introduces a rogue-lite influence. You keep waking up, talking to the same characters about the same things, and then, once in a while, you’ll stumble upon a different opportunity to seize.

It’s a strong concept, in as much as a concept can be strong – ten different mysteries packed into a single area and a puzzle that can be solved differently each time you play. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is tedious, repetitive, and uninteresting.

Three Minutes to Eight Review

In creating a time loop adventure game, developer Chaosmonger Studio appears to have missed the thought that each run of the time loop should be compelling in itself. Instead, each run is bland, opaque, and drenched in references to better works, as if the game were too shy to develop its own image and personality.

With little to care about even in your very first run, the real mystery is figuring out what’s supposed to be the appeal of waking up to try again and again. Why bother?

Three Minutes to Eight Review

Unlike the protagonist of the story, the player is perfectly capable of ending the loop by simply quitting the game. I would expect the game to present an argument to keep me from doing that, but that argument never comes.

Instead, you meander in the same areas over and over, talk to the same characters over and over, pick up the same items again and again, hoping to stumble into something different, which may or may not lead to a solution for your particular run.

Three Minutes to Eight Review

The agony of playing Three Minutes to Eight is made particularly acute when you consider that on the whole, it is a fascinating experiment of a game. The idea of the game – of several distinct explanations for a time loop compressed into a single play space, is quite original. Executing it, however, is a very tall order, and Chaosmonger Studio has not managed to fulfill it.

It’s impossible to recommend Three Minutes to Eight to anyone other than connoisseurs of strange, original, and experimental games. It may very much be an experiment in play and narrative – but it’s not an experiment worth experiencing yourself.

Developer: Chaosmonger Studio
Country of Origin: Estonia
Publisher: Assemble Entertainment
Release Date: October 23, 2023 (PC)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This review of Three Minutes to Eight is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher. The PC version of Three Minutes to Eight was played for this review.

Thank you for reading our review of Three Minutes to Eight.

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This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke