Fresh on the heels of reviewing the massively irritating and poorly designed Deep Ones, Minit was exactly what the doctor ordered. The gameplay, even the foundation of these games are polar opposites, but the aspect of ensuring that a game can be much more than it seems, is every bit as a apparent in Minit, a quality that Deep Ones seems unfamiliar with. Minit, a play on Minute (we’ll get to that shortly) is the definition of simplicity made fun. It’s a refreshing take on a genre that lacks innovation and diversity as of late. It’s also a stark reminder that even the most seemingly plain experiences can go on to offer something so memorable and well rounded, that it stands out on its own merit alone, rather than borrowed traits from its peers.
The game is played sixty seconds at a time, a Minit, if you like. Taking the last thirty years of gaming into account, I think it’s fairly obvious by now that picking up a random sword in any game, is far from a wise move. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the harsh reality of Minit. The game starts by seeing you pick up a sword located on a nearby shore, and from the moment this happens, you have just one minute to live. Let’s stop right there. This design choice sounds awful, doesn’t it? Who the hell wants to play a game that kills you every sixty seconds? Well, you’ll be surprised to learn that this system actually works remarkably well. You see, although you die, you don’t lose all of your progress, instead you get to keep any skills and items that you have obtained on each attempt.
This keeps the progression in line, despite the sixty second timer that will constantly be chasing you throughout. The player also gets to keep new spawn points that are thrown into the mix, which range from other safe houses that are not your own home, the latter serving as your initial spawn point. The aim of the game is to free the nameless protagonist from the curse that the sword has placed upon him, which amounts largely to combat, exploration and acquisition. This is achieved via searching the world high and low for new items, many of which will aid you on your way forward. You could spend a lot of your precious limited time scoping out a section of the map only to find an item.
However, this item may make easy work of getting through that same area on a repeat run, moving you deeper to the root of that area swiftly, affording you more time in the process. The design of Minit is top notch and has been balanced exceptionally well, ensuring that the player barely feels punished, irrespective of the constant dying and positional restarts. That to the side, Minit did begin to frustrate me early on. The game doesn’t give you much to go on at first, and it takes some adjusting to before the “ah-ha” moments sink in. This is alleviated to some degree by how accessible the game is, and by how fast it throws you back into the action, but I would be lying if I said I understood the game during my first ten attempts.
This was, by and large, simply because I had no idea where to go or what to do. Minit pretty much leaves guidance out of the equation, putting trial-and-error on your lap to make use of. Don’t get me wrong, I cant sing this game’s design enough praises, but initial impressions are vital, and Minit stumbled there for me more than anywhere else within. Combat is straightforward, being that you only have two attacks to keep on track of, attack and throw. The enemies hardly put up much of a fight, but when you’ve only a minute to live, you’ll thank these small traits. The game truly opens up once you begin obtaining items to reach further areas of the map with ease, and from here, Minit shines at its brightest. Progressing through the game and reaching areas you couldn’t possibly reach beforehand is exciting in its own right, and in Minit, this is a constant flow.
NPCs will offer up mini-quests outside of the main questing, as well as some light dialogue to tie the structure together neatly, including that of an old man that will rant through most of your freakin’ minute. That, however, is just one of the many clever injections in Minit that toys with your time, and even then, you’re typically rewarded for that too. As you may expect, Minit isn’t a very big game, in fact it can be nuked in a handful of hours. There’s some replay value via a new-game plus option, as well as 100% completion, but I didn’t really feel compelled to run it through a second time. Still, a single run is more than worth the price of admission alone, so anything on top of that is a bonus for those that enjoy achievement seeking and max completion.
Visually speaking, Minit is a 1-bit adventure and doesn’t really try to be anything else. It’s a black and white game with minimal detail. The environments are bland throughout, but do prove to be somewhat diverse nevertheless. The soundtrack is solid and I cant say that I grew tired of it during my time with the game. Though it doesn’t particularly stand out, it’s just background noise, if you like. I think it’s fair to say that Minit will only appeal to a specific crowd of gamers. It would be great to see this getting the attention that it deserves in the long run, because again, there’s a lot more to Minit than meets the eye. If you enjoy games of this type, this one should most certainly be on your radar.
Minit goes to show what a capable developer can do with such a small canvas. This game isn’t going to be for everyone, but those that enjoy quirky adventures should certainly have this on their radar. The minute mechanic, grouped with the solid world design and interesting progression structure, collectively amounts to a worthwhile trek, if indeed a short one.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.