I applaud any game development team who looks to create something new, inventive and refreshing, and four developers with a wealth of experience in game development have tried to do just that. Published by Digital Devolver, Minit – a 2D adventure game where your character dies every 60 seconds – is the latest release to grace the Nintendo eShop. From the moment this game was announced, it piqued my interest. A concept that on the face of it could become quite tiresome quite quickly, I was keen to see whether this game could hold my attention for longer than a minute…
As I started the game for the first time, I found my character in a house reminiscent of Gameboy games of yesteryear. With a feel not too dissimilar to Pokemon or Zelda, I left the relative confines of my house and went off to explore the land. It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon a sword, and quite soon after that…too soon in fact…I was dead. I awoke in my house with a serious case of deja vu, only this time I had my trusty sword attached to my back. I left my house for the second time, and stumbled across someone wishing for the five crabs to be removed from the area. As I tried quickly to kill all five before the timer ran out, I died. The process starts again and I set myself the mission of using my next sixty seconds to kill all five. Failure to do so results in that particular mission remaining incomplete. Once I had completed this task, and after I had died again, I went off in another direction in search of my next task. Some tasks yielded rewards such as inventory items or coins, others just meant that the character who initiated the task was left happier than before.
Whilst progressing further into the game, it was clear that some of the tasks had been carefully crafted to either push the 60 seconds to the limit or to ensure you could not complete the task without some sort of enhancement. Only through exploration may you find the inventory item you are looking for to complete the task. This is the closest the game got to any form of guidance. It doesn’t provide explicit suggestions of what to do next, there is no narrative to support your progression and you can’t be sure you are on the right track until you’ve completed a mission. This was a breath of fresh air for me and a welcome change from more linear games which have very clear direction and less choice. There are merits to both but I felt part of Minit’s appeal is in its lack of hand-holding.
The level of detail and element of strategy which has been included in this game is outstanding. I was blown away on a number of occasions at the thought-provoking nature of Minit and it is evident the developers know what’s required of an adventure game to make it successful. Do not let the quirky black and white animations fool you, this is an extremely challenging game with a level of complexity I was not expecting. On the subject of the art style – I love it. I had my reservations before playing the game as I have become accustomed to the colour and detail of games such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Over the course of my game time my opinion changed from wishing it had more colour to not wanting it any other way.
Simplicity seems to have been at the heart of the look of this game and this can also be suggested of the soundtrack. It has been tailored specifically to the different situations you encounter in the game and no matter where I was playing, I had to have the sound on to immerse myself in the urgency of the 60 second intervals.
When considering if there is anything I do not like about the game, my thoughts are divided. As mentioned previously, the game does not hold your hand. Because of this, there were times where I had to consort the wealth of guidance online. In doing so, I found many hints and tips which I am unsure I would have been able to work out for myself. Although this could be considered a negative, it afforded me the opportunity to interact with a strong community of supporters of Minit. It didn’t take long for me to use what I had learnt and alter my approach to the game as a result. This is something I could have easily missed out on and therefore would have been disappointing.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute – pardon the pun – of my time with Minit. The developers Jan Willem Nijman, Kitty Calis, Jukio Kallio and Domink Johann – who between them have worked on such projects as Horizon Zero Dawn and Vlambeer – deserve much credit for creating a game which doesn’t conform to gaming conventions. It demonstrates how an understanding of game mechanics and what makes a game successful is more than enough, and it has made me re-evaluate what I look for and value in games. This is more than can be said for many of the ‘AAA’ titles of late. I highly recommend that everyone play this game, if not to spend hours playing it but just to appreciate what has been achieved here.
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Review by Shaun Hughes on the Nintendo Switch. Not provided by Devolver Digital.