Minit is an unusual game, akin to ‘Half-Minute Hero’, the game gives you a set time to play the game before you are forced to restart from a checkpoint – in this case, you have 60 seconds. Aesthetically, we are looking at a game which would fit in perfectly on an original Gameboy, with it’s 4:3 ratio and black and white art style, yet there is something about it which makes this game so much more than it first appears.
Big things come in small packages, and I’m happy to say that in the case of Minit, playing it blindly it took me quite a while to complete my first run, which I’ll go more into within my review. Fans of old-school Action-RPGs like Zelda: Links Awakening, rogue-likes and clever little, disguised puzzle games will love this title. The question is, are you Minit to win it?
The story is rather simple, with very little setup and background. Our protagonist is a duck-like character who seems to live with his dog on an island of other duck-creatures (although no other houses – where do they all live?). One sunny day, our protagonist, whom I’ll call Fred from now on (as it doesn’t have a name), goes for a stroll upon the beach past the killer crabs. At this point, I had strong nostalgia for Zelda: Links Awakening as you see a sword washed up on the shoreline. You cautiously waddle over to it and proceed to raise it above your head to show off your new item. All that’s missing here is a “Dah dah dah dahhhhhhhhhh”!
As soon as you get your grubby little fingers on the sword you begin to feel strange, a timer appears in the top left-hand corner of the screen counting down 60 seconds, you are also unable to drop the sword. Luckily, you encounter a mail-man type duck-friend who informs you that you should ‘drop by the factory’ – what factory? What’s going on? Why do you only have 60 seconds, and what happens once the timer runs out?
And so begins the adventure of Fred, you must set out and find this factory in order to uncover whats going on and how to remove the curse. Along the way you will obtain new items, search for hidden treasure, talk and save a bunch of locals, and even solve a few puzzles. I’ll show a screenshot of my first playthrough at the end of this review – I managed to complete the game but I was quite far off the ’25 runs or less’ trophy, which I’ll never achieve!
I love the feel of this game, it had me coming back for more each time and I literally couldn’t stop playing it until I got stuck – I then had a few days off and came back to it and proceeded to complete it. The core mechanic is the timer, from the moment you pick up the sword you only have 60 seconds to complete your adventure. Unlike ‘Half-Minute Hero’, there are no safe areas or options to reset your timer within Minit, once the timer hits zero you will die and return to the last checkpoint you reached. You can also force yourself to die by pushing Circle – This sounds pointless but I used it loads, if you are at an area and you know you don’t have enough time to complete the task then you may as well kill yourself and start again.
As I mentioned above, you get a few items and abilities throughout the game and it plays like a rogue-like game in that anything you obtain in a run will stay with you in the next, yet all enemies and environment objects like trees and boxes will be re-spawned. For example, at one point you gain the ability to cut down trees and you also get the use of a watering can, upon death your sword will still cut down trees and the watering can now appear at your checkpoint for easy swapping before you head out. The whole purpose of the game is to push and get a little bit further with each run before you are forced to reset and try again.
I found this mechanic both interesting and annoying if I’m being honest. It’s interesting because I’ve not seen a mechanic like this for a while and the aesthetic is very pleasing to the eye (but why is there no Vita version!), but it also got a little annoying as you sometimes realise what you need to do just as you run out of time. Honestly, that ’25 runs or less’ trophy will require a guide or a photographic memory of what to do each time.
Aside from the core mechanic, you will also face both puzzles and combat whilst on your adventure. Combat is nice and simple and kept to a minimum, you use your sword to attack enemies, take out bushes and chop down trees – simple. There is a boss but I won’t get into that as it may be classed as a spoiler. The puzzles are worked int the gameplay itself – for example, your in a mine and you need to blow open a load of rocks with a bomb yet if you hit them with your sword then you end up as a roasted duck. So how can you trigger the bombs without touching them? Also, you are stranded on a smaller island yet you need to activate a machine so you can warp back to any checkpoint you have uncovered – how do you turn on the machines and gain this valuable device?
What you’ll also be doing as you play is managing your time, there are four ‘houses’ which serve as your checkpoints as you travel. Upon entering one of these, this becomes your new checkpoint – which is why you can keep progressing as you can just choose to respawn at a closer one (as long as you have entered the building). The progression in the game works really well – because the enemies are weak and there isn’t much ‘challenge’, you don’t level up like you would in an RPG, you just obtain new abilities or items which allows you to get further each time. There are also a few NPCs to talk to, although some will take up all of your time just to listen to them talking about nothing. Also, there is a shop which sells you an item if you have a certain number of coins, which you find as you’re out and about – I haven’t collected all of the coins yet so I can’t say what’s at the end of the maze which you need the item for…
As I’ve mentioned a few times, the game looks and plays like an original Gameboy game – which isn’t a bad thing. The whole aesthetic is so pleasing to the eye with its immense contrast between the black ground/sea and the white outlines to create detail. I love the fact they kept the game in a 4:3 ratio and had each screen as it’s own area – so moving to any of the sides will cause you to effectively move to a new scene. Again though – this is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC yet no Switch or Vita – this game would be perfect on a handheld – hopefully it does come to both in the near future.
The music is delightful, once again it is chiptune style to perfectly match the overall game style yet it’s very cheery and quirky in tone. I would listen to the music as I’m writing this but alas, you only have 60-seconds until you die so it would have got a little annoying as I died over and over again! There is no talking in the game, everything is text only, but it really fits – it’s hard to explain but playing Minit really reminds me of playing a re-released Gameboy game. Not a remastered one or a remake, but like this was a long-lost Gameboy game that has just been released via an emulator or repo-cart – it’s that good and true to the limitations of the Gameboy system.
Above is my stats from my first successful run – as you can see, 133 runs, 49% of items collected and a time of 94 minutes isn’t exactly leaderboard quality! There are trophies for finding all of the items and coins, not killing any snakes, completing the game in under 25 runs, and more. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the platinum without a guide, but I will still try and do all the things I think I can work on. Also, upon completing the game you will unlock NG+ mode. this mode is basically the same game only you have 40 seconds per run instead of 60 – challenge accepted!
Official Trailer (which is 60 seconds long):
Minit is a great little game which keeps you thinking and planning ahead due to its strict time limit. There were moments when I was lost and had no idea where to go, but there was always an NPC hinting where to go or what to do, I just subconsciously chose to ignore them it seems! The art style and chiptune music is a delightful nostalgia trip back to the simple gameplay mechanics of the 90’s whilst incorporating the advancement of duck-like creatures. Even though my first run only lasted 94-minutes, I had a lot of fun and I can see myself pouring many hours into this game trying to get all of the trophies.
Highly recommended to fans of rogue-like games, RPG-adventure games like Zelda and those who love nostalgia trips back to their childhood.
- Very pleasing art style
- Nostalgic chiptune music, art and gameplay mechanics to the Gameboy era
- interesting story which uses the time mechanic really well
- Many things to find and discover if you wish to explore
- The game's a little short and I imagine very short with a guide
- The time limit, although fun and challenging, can be a bit brutal at times
- Not available on Vita (yet?)