Developer(s): JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): PC (Windows, Linux, macOS), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 04/03/2018
On its surface, Minit looks like a simplistic, cute game. In fact, it’s fair to say it looks like a standard “retro-inspired” indie affair, something we’ve all come to expect.
Its art-style and story are minimalist, yet at the same time immediately charming from the moment you start your adventure in a tiny house near the beach. Little blobby people, or things vaguely shaped like people, inhabit a rundown, but quaint little town. Your character, who might actually have a name, but I like to call “Minit-man”, moves around in a top-down style reminiscent of games like The Legend of Zelda.
But, where Minit differentiates itself and stops being simple is in its core mechanic. As a result of a cursed sword that Minit-man happened to find, you only have sixty seconds to live before you die and return to your starting point. To end this curse and stop the mass production of these swords by an evil factory, you set out on your quest.
Sixty Second Man
To progress, you have to use your sixty seconds wisely. The world’s map is spread out in a connecting, looping way. As you rush around, trying to do things like kill crabs that roam around the landscape like enemy sprites in an Atari 2600 game to help a local café’s business, you inadvertently get closer to saving the day- and yourself.
Death doesn’t mean losing progress. Death in Minit functions more as a return to your last checkpoint, of which there exist a small handful in the game. The key to traversing the world faster within the allotted minute lies in finding and taking advantage of shortcuts that funnel you back to your checkpoint. The map’s design connects in a sublimely intelligent manner, like finding shortcuts back to “bonfires” in Dark Souls games. Only in Minit, you’re forced back to your bonfire once time runs out.
The game doesn’t focus on action, though it does have some minor sprinkles of it here and there. Genre-wise, it lies more in the adventure game category, as most of it involves logical problem solving. It would be pretty accurate to describe the game as one big Zelda dungeon puzzle.
There isn’t exactly one way to solve Minit, however. You can take different routes, and doing things a certain way might have different outcomes as you progress. There are numerous secrets to be found in the world as well.
It’s definitely a game people interested in speed-running would enjoy. That said, taking your time (as much of it as you have, at least) and enjoying the world is just as rewarding.
While the game itself isn’t overly long, presenting itself as more of a humble quest than a grand escapade, it has a “New Game+” mode that revamps how your adventure plays out while also amping up the difficulty with changes to your time limit and health. It’s in this mode where the game’s unique time-based mechanic shines immensely. You have to plan out your moves more precisely. In many instances, you must put considerable thought into your strategy.
A Melancholy Sense of Humor
A signifcant notch in Minit’s belt, which shows itself throughout, is its sweet and silly humor. Outside of its funny premise alone, you’ll encounter a wide cast of oddball characters. Meet the fish that proclaims its love for land (despite obviously not being fit for land). Talk to an old man that takes a bit too long to tell you his story, prompting you to die before he finishes it.
Touches like these put the game’s humor in the same category as The Secret of Monkey Island or Undertale. Aspects of its setting are even reminiscent of Craig Thompson’s emotional graphic novel, Good-bye, Chunky Rice. As a result, Minit evokes both wholesomeness and melancholia.
The comment earlier about the game being a “standard retro-inspired” project wasn’t a knock. Minit’s monochromatic pixel-based look is pleasant, at times downright pretty, and weirdly wholesome. It helps frame the kind of kooky world you’re in while also maintaining a level of seriousness. It pairs perfectly with the score, at times chill in a bold, adventurous way, and other times a chaotic, haywire mess (in a good way). If you appreciate, for example, Adventure Time’s background scores, you’ll get a kick out of this.
Combining this lovely presentation with its clever sixty second gimmick, Minit is a short, small adventure that’s bigger within its own scope than what might be expected of it.
It’s the kind of world that I very much like taking a part in, and the game’s short run-time is absolutely fitting. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel, DLC or some sort of expansion in the future, as the gameplay mechanics are ripe for further exploration. But for now, this small adventure has more than enough to offer.
- Deceptively simple yet easy-to-grasp “gone in sixty seconds” mechanic
- Pretty, atmospheric visual and sound design
- Living breathing world with charming characters and settings
- Multiple routes to take, lots of secrets hiding
- New Game+ is engaging, doubles the experience
- Short length might be off-putting for some people