Minit review

5 months ago by Raymond Porreca

Don't blink.

For better or worse, video games tend to take a while before they go anywhere. They have a bit more room to breathe compared to other forms of entertainment; games aren't restricted to a few hundred pages bound together by glue, nor are they like films, edited down to an optimal runtime. Instead, games tend to get bigger and take longer, as if their content buckled and spilled outward, instead of crystallizing into a clear, focused experience.

Minit is the polar opposite of this trend. Minit is lean. Minit is fast. Minit is a bite-sized adventure game played in 60-second chunks. And honestly, it might be perfect.

Like so many adventures, Minit begins with a sword. It's a simple thing, just a blade resting on a beach, that seems innocuous enough. But upon picking it up—and what person in their right mind wouldn't pick up an unattended sword should the opportunity present itself?— a strange curse infects Minit's hero. They're destined to die every 60 seconds, without fail, until the factory that manufactured the sword stops production.

And from that moment on, it's off to the races. Players have to navigate the game's 1-bit island, weaving paths and solving puzzles, all while a timer perpetually counts down from 60. Death's inevitable. Crossing more than a handful of screens at once just isn't possible because of Minit's built-in time constraint. But death isn't the end; it's more like a learning experience. The sword's curse might mean the hero bites the dust after a single minute, but it also affords them the ability to keep coming back. Minit's greatest trick is that what first seems like a doomsday clock is more like an hourglass.

What follows is a game full of playful exploration and "a-ha!" moments. The design of Minit's world is a web of interconnected environments and charming characters. Your journey begins humbly but unfolds organically. Every barrier along the way is only a temporary impediment solved by exploring a different area of the map or unlocking a new item by helping one of the island's inhabitants. Although dying and respawning is an integral part of the experience, every item or upgrade Minit's hero grabs is persistent.

As the journey unfolds, Minit's scope expands too. The factory isn't far away from the hero's home, but getting there takes a while. You'll wander through an endless desert and repair a boat, locate lost credit cards, and even meet some friendly ghosts before long. It's reminiscent of Zelda's item-trading sequences in some regards; this adventure isn't necessarily about saving the world, it's about a duck-billed bipedal-thing who just wants to stop living the same minute over and over again. Every tool—like the cup of coffee that allows you to push boxes—is a means of making that a reality. And within a few minutes, Minit becomes a mad-dash race as you internalize its map and move with immediacy and purpose.

Of course, it's impossible to make it everywhere in one go. The shoe factory, for example, is a hike from the hero's home. Minit handles these long-distance trips in a novel way by allowing players to claim different dwellings in each area. They're cozy spaces that, once accessed, function as a new spawn point. By spacing its hubs a manageable distance apart, Minit's multi-stepped quest never feels like something you can't handle. Time's an inconvenience, but never a genuine problem.

All its different parts, the nifty puzzles, silly characters, and constant countdown, fit together perfectly. Minit's a modern-day distillation of the sweeping adventure games that defined home consoles, distilled into a breezy, entertaining experience that gets plenty of mileage out of its central hook. More than anything, Minit's a game about taking life one minute at a time, and it shouldn’t be missed.

Verdict: Yes