If you’ve ever wanted the gaming equivalent of Groundhog Day realised as a monochrome 1-bit, ZZT inspired RPG where you die every minute, not only are you incredibly specific, but your dreams have arrived in the form of Minit.
Published by Devolver Digital, Minit is made by a four person indie and you’re cast as a duck-like creature who randomly decides to pick up a sword that has washed up on the beach.
Big mistake buddy, because now ducky is cursed to die every single minute in some kind of sick, twisted infinite loop and it’s up to you to help break the spell.
So, like…how about duck-dude just doesn’t pick the sword up at all?
I mean, you could do that. There are other items to collect in the game like a watering can and a bone. The thing is, those clever developers have made it so that you can’t really progress very much without that devilish old sword.
For instance, you need to cut back some bushes ala Zelda in order to get to other areas. Then there are some crab creatures you need to defeat in order to complete a quest. And also some other puzzly things that sword is good for, so, yeah, that strategy won’t work.
It’s all very creative and clever, because having a time limit on your back every time you respawn forces you to think very clearly about what you want to accomplish. Do you have something in your inventory you didn’t before which can help you complete a puzzle? Is there an area you need to reach and what’s the fastest way to get there?
Ultimately, you’re going to complete the game in one minute, such is the nature of the mechanics, but it’s about working out how to do that through the process of elimination and deduction. Fortunately, there are some helpful guides along the way, as well as different shelters where you can rest and other, unexpected surprises.
You can also solve many of the game’s puzzles in an order that suits you. Some things do need to be done in a certain way, but part of what makes Minit so good is that you will carve your own path through the content, working things out on your terms.
For those who like a challenge, though, there’s definitely incentives here as well. Minit tracks your stats through the number of deaths you’ve had, locations you’ve found, time you’ve taken, and items gathered.
But…but…it’s all in black and white and it looks old
Sure, it does, and that’s the point. Minit pays respect to the Spectrums and Gameboys of this world, as well as iconic adventure games like Dizzy the Egg, Gargoyle’s Quest and Monty Mole. Not all of us grew up on Telltale, you know! Besides, these graphics take ages to hone and craft, getting them just right so as to depict the image you want.
Arguably, the most impressive thing Minit does is make it seem easy to appear as good as it does. Personally, I came to find it quite artistic and beautiful in its own weird and wacky way, especially when played in sequence with the soundtrack and the tongue-in-cheek way it takes digs at itself.
In truth, Minit has a lot of influences under the surface, even if the exterior presents the illusion of being basic. Perhaps it spoke to me initially because it touched a long-dormant retro portion of my brain, but I knew that with the substance and quality of the content being offered, it was way, way more than that.
Once I’d died the first few times, I was helplessly hooked on the game. By then, nothing else mattered as I understood what the game was all about and what I had to do and I loved it.
It’s one of those rare occasions where the gameplay is so compelling that you lose yourself in it rather than the terraflops, resolutions and frames per second. In our PS4 Pro / Xbox One X generation, perhaps that’s the most refreshing thing of all about Minit.
I absolutely adored Minit. It’s funny, quirky, and delightful. With no map or waypoint to guide you, the harshest time limit possible, and so much to see and do, it constantly forces a fresh perspective for each approach and will test your gaming credentials to the core.
Minit pays homage to the emerging speed-running culture by testing speed and skill, while also offering a traditional, yet engrossing adventure, concocted of experimentation and discovery.
True, this may not look like the sort of game you want to be playing in 2018, but it’s exactly the type you should. Because for a title that looks like it should stay buried in the past, Minit has plenty to say about how games can and should evolve in the future.
+ Smart, creative mechanics that impact each run
+ Mostly non-linear approach
+ Quirky and funny
+ Irresistibly addictive
+ Lovely little soundtrack
– Doesn’t lend itself to multiple playthroughs and can be quite short
– Some environmental repetition and lots of backtracking can frustrate
9 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code provided by the publisher