Minit, at it’s core, is a classic top down adventure game. You explore, collect items to progress, meet others and help them before working out where the big bad is and trying to stop them. Minit’s twist however is just that, a minute. You can only do what you need to in 60 second runs. If you need to collect an item you’ve a minute to do it. Need to complete a puzzle, you’ve a minute. The timer, always counting down, makes you very aware of how well you’re doing on each run. At first I thought it would be too difficult. That having to complete tasks or find something in one minute would be a challenge to great for me but there in lays Minit’s strength. It’s simplicity.
The simplicity of it is freeing. Whilst you die after 60 seconds I learnt to use each run to figure out the layout of the world, or the quickest route through. I could help one character or collect one item. This imposed limitation isn’t really one at all and in that Minit doesn’t overburden you with things to do. Skyrim it is not. You can have a singular focus on each minute run, complete it, then figure out what to do next. This pushes you on, straight to the next task and each minute feels like another chance rather than the end. Death is not absolute and it’s liberating. Minit does allow you retain the items you’ve collected across runs and those that you’ve helped or found remain in that state. What resets every run is the environment and the enemies making the entire game feel like one big puzzle filled full of smaller, simpler puzzles. Across each run you’re also building up the map of the world in your head, noting areas that are not yet accessible or points of interest to return to on another run with a discovered item that will let you progress. This set up encourages exploration and there are ample rewards for discovering hidden areas.
Whilst it’s simple Minit’s world is relatively big. Not too big, but big enough that it has distinct areas, several safe houses (were you’ll start a run from) and a few small island destinations. I built a map of the world up in my head over the course of my first game. Connecting the 100+ screens and figuring out the optimal routes or where the safe houses are make you feel like you’re progressing, that you’re getting better at the game, by navigating smarter. A meticulously placed tree or box blocks your path and until you have the right item you’ll have to find another way. Minit is very good at sheparding you without specifying a destination yet it doesn’t telegraph the next item needed or place to be.
So the world is big. But It’s the characters, the relentless back and forth loop from house to destination, and the well illustrated locations that make Minit feel expansive and full of personality. The characters you meet are all individual and unique, not just in their visual appearance but in their dialogue, their language and the way they act. I met one creature with an eye patch who acted hard and would hit you back, another who was scared and hid up trees and an elderly, turtle looking being who spoke super slowly. In their simplicity they are all unique. These characters act as information givers and puzzle pieces, they’re not just set dressing, however there is no quest log here just well thought out, short dialogue. The characters give a suggestion of where to go rather than a direction adding to the expansive and exploratory feel to the game. Usually their words are humorous, but some can be rude to you or just plain dead panned. Every one is different.
Minit presents itself in a charming pixel style aesthetic. The choice to be purely black and white is an interesting one and a lack of colour doesn’t take anything away from this aesthetic. Rather it makes it look very clean and is easy to understand. The environment, buildings, characters are definitive and the use of scale works well to help that understanding. Whilst we’ve had more recent indie games which have chosen a pixelated, parred back graphical style all of them do so differently. Minit is the first, that I can think of, to do so to this extreme. It feels like it could be played on an original GameBoy and evokes the spirit of the early adventure games such as the Legend of Zelda or even the Pokemon games.
Backing up this art style is a very fitting musical score. All chip tunes the music helps build the world and changes dependent on what area of the game you’re in. It can evoke a sense of calmness, be jovial or have a complete absence when underground. It adds a lot to world and the journey you are taking.
Adding to it’s appeal Minit can be completed in one sitting. My first game was around 68 runs in 63 minutes. By no means did I find everything though. I only had around 35% completion on items and collectables. On realising there was much more to see Minit had me jumping straight back into the game. There’s a new game + mode but unlike other games which bring across progress Minit gives the option of ‘Second Run’. This will make you collect all the items again but it’ll increase the difficulty of the puzzles and you’ll find other ways the game hampers you. It’s a clever feature rather than having classic difficulty settings. I stumbled at the first puzzle as I had a solution in my head from game one that just wouldn’t work. I found this super frustrating, something I hadn’t felt at all during the first play through. To help with this Minit and the developers go the extra mile. You can visit twitter and Mary the Ghost who’ll give you some helpful hints to progress. I’m currently starting my fourth play through to mop up some trophies after finishing a 100% completion run. Minit has me coming back to it almost every day.
From the graphics to the simple use of items you collect everything in Minit feels like it’s been really thought through including the ominous count down of the clock. The brilliant loop of trying to complete a task, help someone or progress further in the world urges you to keep playing. It’s a beautiful and brutal throw back to adventure games of old.
Should you play it? Yes
Why? Minit is a must play for everyone. From those who love adventure and exploration, those who want a clever puzzle game with an interesting central mechanic or those who want a charming story full of personality it can cater to all.
But… No buts, play it now.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4. Purchased on PSN