Time is an interesting concept in the world of gaming. Many of today’s games let you take however long you want to complete quests, grind away for experience points and just take in the virtual environment that you’re immersing yourself into. A sense of urgency is starting to become less prevalent in video games, which is where Minit comes in; 60 seconds at a time.
Minit is an adventure game developed by the 4-person team of Jan Willem Nijman, Kitty Callis, Dominik Johann and Jukio Kallio, who have respectively worked on have worked on a variety of amazing games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nuclear Throne, Celeste and many others.
The premise of the game is very simple. You play as an unnamed duck-like hero who finds a sword washed up on the beach (much like The Legend of Zelda, right down to the raising the sword above your head bit). It turns out that the sword is cursed and causes you to die every 60 seconds, forcing you to start over from your last resting place. The rest of the game is spent exploring the world around you, solving puzzles and fighting monsters in minute long chunks. It’s an unusual mechanic that’s only really been visited in recent memory by a small handful of games such as Half Minute Hero, but it is ultimately a refreshing change of pace.
The game doesn’t hold your hand too much, and leaves a lot for you to figure out independently, which works well. Forcing in senseless tutorials wouldn’t have gelled with the overall concept, and helped spell disaster for the game immediately. While the game is definitely challenging at times, it never reaches the point of wanting to rage quit. Removing the rogue-like element of permadeath and opting for the forgiving “death is now just a slap on the wrist” approach helps this, and may even draw new players in as a result.
After your time is up on a run, enemies and greenery that you’ve hacked up respawn again, but you get to keep any items and quest progress you’ve accrued in those 60 seconds. Each item that you collect makes different puzzles easier to beat on the next run, and can often offer a great challenge when trying to work out just how to get to them. It’s this brilliantly simple mechanic that pushes players to progress incrementally and use their time wisely.
The writing in Minit is deceptively clever. As you encounter a whole host of different non-playable characters along your journey, you’ll see them spout non-sequiturs at you as well as hints as to what you need to do next. For example, the old timer by the lighthouse speaks…so…s l o w l y that getting to the end of his speech will eat up the majority of a run’s timer. It’s this mix of humour and helpfulness that ensures that the characters that you meet along the way in Minit are memorable throughout, much like how LucasArts did in its seminal point & click adventures back in the day, albeit in a much more streamlined fashion now.
The game’s monochromatic art style is also one of the main highlights too. Looking like a blend of Tamagotchi, The Legend of Zelda and Downwell, Minit‘s aesthetic is executed incredibly well. From the delightfully basic 8-bit enemies to the fantastic use of blank space to create the illusion of a vast desert or ocean, Minit has absolutely nailed it graphically. While it may not necessarily appeal to a more casual audience, the graphical style adds layers of charm to the already quirky premise of the game. Minit‘s decidedly retro visuals also come complete with a blippy chiptune soundtrack, which gets more intense the closer the timer is to zero.
The controls follow the theme of simplicity too, with the left thumb pad to move, X as the attack/use button and Circle to reset a run early. The combat can sometimes feel slightly inaccurate when it comes to aiming weapons, but there’s not enough fighting in the game for it to ever become a major problem.
Minit is a fantastic little game that oozes charm, and will be a game that I’ll constantly be revisiting. It acts as a love letter to a wide variety of different games, but never feels like it’s ripping any of them off. The gameplay mechanics and the simplified graphics may not appeal to everyone and it’s not the longest of games (I finished the story an hour, but completing the game unlocks new game+, which ups the difficulty by shortening the timer to 40 seconds, and limiting your health to a single heart), but the game’s writing is second to none and has a world design that is completely unique.
So, at the risk of sounding like a cliché, Minit is definitely worth more than a minute of your time.
- Challenging, but not impossible
- Stylishly retro graphics
- Humorous writing with great NPC dialogue
- New game+ adds replayability factor
- Controls can feel a bit temperamental.
- Very short.
Minit is available now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
This review is for the PlayStation 4 version.