A tiny adventure with lots of charm
Minit is deceptively simple. You play a little pixelated character who wakes up in their house and picks up a cursed sword. The rest of the game is an adventure, digested in sixty second increments, to lift the curse. You see, the curse is you only have sixty seconds to live. How much can you get done in that time? You’d be surprised. It’s a lot.
For the most part, the conceit works. From your house–the start point, of which there are many you can take advantage–you have a surprising amount of access to many things. Of course, it’s designed this way, because it would be ridiculously unfair if you could not feasibly do things within the amount of time the concept itself allows. You do have a good amount of flexibility, though. You navigate with the arrow keys and apart from that, you only use two keys. X is the action key–typically used for swinging your cursed sword–and C is the key to kill yourself and end your run early. If you need to do something that won’t take sixty seconds and you’re trying to consolidate your time, as you should, it’s easy to end that particular run early and get going on the progress front. While it may be tempting to keep exploring, sometimes it’s easier to restart and explore with the full minute. This becomes clear as you just barely reach something new and your character lets out his death cough and keels over.
One of my favorite discoveries is very early in the game. In the opening parts of the map, there is a lighthouse. Outside that lighthouse is an old man waiting to talk to you in his slow, old man drawl. Believe me when I say you need the whole minute to not only reach him but to hear his whole spiel. In a game that seems to encourage hastiness by nature, it absolutely tickled me to die the second he finished talking to me about where to swim. It’s little surprises like this–the changes of pace, the break of expectation–that make the game special.
It’s just a cute game, okay?
Because the game is a pixelated black and white landscape with no other tones or hues, it has to rely on more than visuals to captivate players, and the developers really understand how to inject the charm. I already mentioned clever ways to break the pacing, but really, everything about it is just plain adorable. There are a lot of empty parts of the map, squares of nothing except for a few trees, and even a never-ending desert, but there’s plenty to interact with.
Nearly everyone you come across has something to say, even if it’s flavor text. There are signs abound to drop little hints about what’s to come or how to progress, and everything makes sounds. The auditory experience gave me lots of little surprises. On top of the excellent music, the simplistic design of murmuring, unspecific dialogue from a local mine worker to a fish that loves land is just plain cute. Minit really makes the most of its minimalist look and feel, and brings lots of personality with a ton of small touches without huge flash.
Curiosity is both your curse and your reward. The sword that leads to you dying every minute also leads you on a puzzle solving adventure filled with satisfaction, nice ghosts, and making people happy. Knowing that everything you need to do can be accomplished in sixty seconds is also a double-edged sword. You know that no matter what, your goals could be reached easily. This takes a turn when suddenly you feel like you’re running in circles, going from house to house–which are the start points–trying to figure out what to do next. Maybe you need to cut down a specific tree or maybe you need to push a specific box. Maybe you accidentally overlooked an area you haven’t explored yet, but the repetition keeps you from seeing it.
This is my greatest issue with the game, but all said, it’s a tool to keep you unlocking the secrets Minit has to offer. If you get frustrated and need to take a break, it saves all items you have collected, despite your deaths, and regardless if you take a day-long break or do a run reset with a death, you always start in whichever house you visited last. Remember that all things can be done in one minute. Open your mind and get ready to explore.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; Publisher: Devolver Digital; Developer: JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom; Players: 1; Released: April 3rd, 2018; ESRB: E; MSRP: $6.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of Minit given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.