It’s a bit gimmicky, as other adventure games would utilize many of Minit’s features and set-ups otherwise. However, it adds another layer to puzzles and difficulty as well, and was pretty fun for a short jaunt.
Genres: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: JW, Kitty, Jukio, Dom
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release date: 3 April, 2018
It doesn’t come up often, but every once in a while I notice a game like Minit (M) that centers itself around the idea of constraining the player under a very tight time limit. The idea by default sounds pretty horrendous, as time limits can be somewhat of an annoyance already, but to put the player within so tight of a box takes that to another level. However, the developer has also created a parameter for themselves, and has to use creative design choices to make for a playable, enjoyable game. I was curious about how M would turn out, and I’ll tell you how my experience with it went, in a minute.
M is an adventure game, where you’ll scramble around everyplace you can possibly get to within your 60 second time limit, talking with NPCs for hints or to find out if they’d trade something you can find with an item you’d want. Some of these include more hearts, a watering can, and an upgraded sword. If you count killing some crabs on the beach as a heroic feat, and a cup of coffee as a treasure, you’ll even complete quests for these hapless NPCs. The time limit doesn’t impose only a barrier on how much you can accomplish, it also makes the game into a puzzle. There will be areas beyond the reach of your house, or tasks that at first don’t seem possible with so little time to complete it. However, you’ll figure out alternative routes, create shortcuts, and even find different starting locations, which will open up enough opportunity to complete what the game lays out before you. I think it’s a bit generous to call this a Zelda-like game, but there’s some of that spirit here, even if it’s on the light side.
There’s partial controller support for M, but it didn’t work with my Xbox 360 controller, so I’m not sure which ones it does and doesn’t recognize. Either way, I had to play it with a keyboard, though if you don’t like the default set-up you can rebind the arrangement. Whatever you decide to go with, there are only a few controls to keep in mind. Moving the character, attacking/using another item like the watering can, and committing suicide if you want to restart the run. The only problem I had with the controls was the couple of times I accidentally ended a run early when I meant to attack.
Considering how little time there is to develop a story, as it has to be delivered in less than 60 seconds at a time, it’s not surprising how simple and honestly half-baked it is. You’re just a regular person, until you pick up a cursed sword you find lying around, and will repeatedly die every 60 seconds. This isn’t a one of a kind artifact though, as they’re being mass produced in a factory, which is already drawing the ire of the people nearby. Everyone is locked in an endless loop, which seems to apply as much to the antagonist as anybody else. So, with that being the case, how could any of these swords ever make it to anybody else since there’s no time for them to, or what would the benefit be in having more than one person afflicted by it? There seems to be no point to this scheme, with it only serving as an excuse for the game’s mechanics.
I have to give the game credit for being able to create enough contrast using only black and white to create a viable gaming world made up of NPCs, backgrounds, and various objects. However, this constraint wasn’t imposed by any hardware limitations, and the game would have benefited from an inclusion of color. An example of this stems from how it’s harder to make things stand out with the use of such a limited color palette, or knowing what something is supposed to be. An early heart that can be obtained near the house by watering a plant looked like a worm in the dirt to me, so though it wound up being important like I thought, I had no idea what to do with it because I couldn’t tell what it was. Plus, with more colors available, it would have made for an ability to vary up the backgrounds more, as they reused many basic patterns repeatedly.
I’m a bit confused by the sound design of M, not because of the songs themselves, but because of where some of them play. While walking along the beach near the beginning it carries the same tune that you start the game on, but in an area unconnected to the beach completely, it played only ambient, beachside noises. I think their triggers could be more logically placed, though this matter aside, I do like the songs in the game. There is at least one sound effect that annoys me, the sword throwing noise, but that’s the only one I can remember now.
- The noises that play to represent NPC dialogue is entertaining. With only one exception, they all load in quickly too, so you can read them fast enough to not have to dilly-dally on their behalf.
- By its nature, M autosaves frequently, so you won’t have to worry about lost progress.
- One should expect a game with such a tight time limit to be fairly small in scale and scope, but I still found myself disappointed by how small the area was. When I found out about the jogging shoes, I thought that was going to open up more possibilities by extending my range and making navigation that much easier. However, the speed change was minute, and didn’t expand the areas that could be explored. The turbo ink increases your speed further, but it’s an unnecessary boost.
- I thought some of the puzzles and hidden items were a bit obtuse. When I hit the pot next to the diner and it didn’t break, I just moved on and wasn’t aware it’ll break after being hit 5 times.
- The endless desert obfuscates areas near it that aren’t endless, making it a bit harder to know which screens will lead somewhere and which will lead into an endless loop that has no point.
- Getting around efficiently is important, so becoming familiar with where things are in relation to one another helps. For instance, knowing different routes to get from your house to the hotel and desert based on what items you currently have will prove useful. Also, you’ll want to prioritize getting the coffee, gardening gloves, throwable sword, camera, and flippers.
- You can find and refer to an in-game tracker of how many items and hearts you’ve collected thus far. It’s a useful tool, but it doesn’t provide any details such as the locations of the ones you already found, nor is there a reference to track NPCs you can help for an item. Using a guide or taking notes is recommended.
- Dies and presses X to continue.
It doesn’t come up often, but every once in a while I notice a game… Flushes a broken sword down a toilet. Sorry about that, I had to break the time loop. Having earned all of the achievements in the game, I can say it’s not a bad experience. There were some areas that stumped me for a while, and I find the minimalist design a bit lazy considering the asking price for this short game. However, it didn’t take long after I began the game for me to look up guides for all of the achievements so I could fully complete it, so it was somewhat addictive. If you found the base game mode too easy, there’s another option available after beating the game, which ramps up the difficulty by remixing some of the puzzles, restricting you to 1 HP only, and having you start with the broken sword. Getting the coffee became the hardest task to complete, and I just barely made it. Even the base game has some high demands here and there, so it can be more difficult to beat than I’d have guessed. Overall, I’d recommend M, but only on sale, because even 100%’ing it should only take a minute or two.