Minit review: Minute to win itApril 3, 2018
Don’t balk at Minit’s brevity or simplicity. Minit has exactly everything it needs to glue you to the adventure until it’s over, and maybe long after.
Developers: JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PC (Version reviewed) PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: April 3, 2019
With all the praised heaped upon vast, open-world games with complex systems and plots, I still never get tired of games that are boiled down to the basics needed to play them when they do those basics well. Minit is a short top-down adventure with a clever twist: you only have 60 seconds to do anything before you reset. To support the needed haste for such an adventure, Minit includes only what is absolutely necessary for the game to work and be fun. And dang, it is fun.
In Minit, the duck-like protagonist picks up a sword on a beach and immediately suffers from a strange curse: they die every 60 seconds and reappear in their home. The goal is to lift the curse by tracking down the source of the weird sword in a simple but goofy story. You might not get the whole picture if you don’t take the time to listen to NPCs you pass, but the quirky dialogue often sparked smiles and I recommend taking an extra death if you must to hear all of them out when you meet them.
Rather than a punishment, death in Minit is a mechanic to be used to your advantage. Any items you obtain and certain puzzles you solve or characters you help will persist through each death, though others will reset. For example, the first “quest” you’re given is to kill five crabs. The crabs will respawn after a death, but the reward for doing the quest, a cup of coffee, will persist and you’ll never have to do it again.
Minit falls into the same category of top-down adventures as The Legend of Zelda, and has been compared to the original classic. There’s certainly a similarity in the stark simplicity of each. Characters will offer subtle hints about the things they need, but largely you progress by using the tools you’ve obtained to investigate environmental curiosities until something happens. Your eye is automatically drawn to bushes to cut, unusual walls, or strange enemies. This is a testament to Minit’s sparse design. The world is stripped down to only the necessary obstacles, characters, and objects, eliminating distractions and drawing attention to the next objective. Even the control scheme–arrows, X for sword, C to die and restart on PC, is as simple as it can possibly be.
But rather than feel small or empty, this simplicity makes the small world of Minit feel dense, because there’s at least one meaningful thing to do or see on every single screen. In your haste to pack as much into 60 seconds as possible, you’ll rarely die without feeling accomplished and eager to get moving again. You’ll constantly come up with more efficient paths to repeated destinations or spot new areas you want to try and explore. I missed a key tool in the first area, but nonetheless spent about 90 minutes of game finding other interesting things to do before I finally hit a wall and had to retrace my steps. There are few such gates; much of the game can be completed in the order you stumble into it.
I felt quick and smart, but never panicked nor cheated.
One of my favorite things about Minit was the way it actively discouraged me from frustrating video game puzzle behaviors. I have a knack for bashing my head into a puzzle for long periods of time, unable to move on. Minit makes it clear that this is a poor choice. Puzzles will take a few tries to solve, certainly, but if you find yourself stuck and incapable of moving forward, you always reach the understanding that “I must go do something else” long before you reach “Why the hell isn’t this working?” levels of exasperation. If water is in the way, you know you’ll find a way to swim it before long. You’ve seen the man with the saw and the stumps in your path, so at some point, he’ll give up his tools for you. But if that moment is not now, you can breathe easy and wander off somewhere else.
You may not even return to some of those puzzles you were stuck on; not on your first run, anyway. Minit’s brief story was over abruptly; story-wise, I knew it was coming, but there were still so many hidden places I wanted to return to that it nonetheless caught me off-guard. This game begs you to replay it, either normally or on its even crazier New Game+ that cuts your time down to a bonkers 40-seconds and rearranges a few other things while it’s at it. Knowing the necessary steps to finish the game offers far more freedom to explore; you’ll quickly gather your tools and start hacking your way through the puzzles you missed at first.
A three-hour game doesn’t sound like much, even for a low $9.99 price tag, but if you have any interest at all in the premise of Minit I highly encourage you to pick it up. I get jumpy in games when timers appear on screen and usually avoid such things, yet I couldn’t put Minit down. JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom somehow found the perfect balances of spacing, timing, and obstacles to tickle my brain at just the right pace. I felt quick and smart, but never panicked nor cheated. Naysay the simplicity if you like, but Minit revels in its smallness by its precise intentionality. And just wait until speedrunners get ahold of it!
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.