Sixty seconds. That’s how long each life lasts in Minit, a unique title that puts a spin on Zelda-esque design using devious time management. As a hero doomed to exist in one-minute intervals, players must make the most of their time to unravel the mysteries of the black and white world. Though the experience winds up being as brief as the title suggests, it's time well spent.
Beginning each life at the hero’s house, the goal is to explore as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Once time expires, the character dies and players restart back home. Exploring far off areas only to be kicked back to the beginning sounds restrictive, but I loved the fun sense of urgency this creates. A satisfying feeling of accomplishment arises in trying to quickly map out the world. The best reward, though, comes in obtaining new equipment.
Items such as a sword that cuts through obstructing bushes or speed-boosting shoes save precious seconds. They also open up previously inaccessible areas, creating new routes to hasten treks. Life may be fleeting, but thankfully progress is permanent; each new item becomes an lasting part of the inventory. That means that despite repeatedly starting anew, significant gains are made. The relief in finding a breakthrough tool with just seconds to spare can be exhilarating.
Minit’s most inventive aspects directly play into its time limit. One elderly NPC takes ages to reveal the location of a secret spot. To allow time to read his full message, players must find a faster way to reach him. Another segment involves finding a character’s lost credit card by playing a cute game of “hot and cold”. Though the entire game acts as a race against the clock, I would have liked to see more situations that more directly, and creatively, challenge player speed. Minit’s puzzles are perfectly acceptable, though few stand out as anything special.
The final boss stands as my biggest gripe in terms of not taking advantage of the timer. Though a solid fight, it ignores the game’s urgency by allowing players to restart at the exact spot in the fight that they died. Not to armchair design, but can’t help but feel the boss should instead be dropped by a single, tough-to-find weakness that you only get one minute to uncover.
Though Minit hides a decent amount of side content that players must go out of their way to find (including a secret-laden dungeon), the critical path ends much sooner than I would have liked. In fact, there’s no indication that the end is near until the boss falls and the credits roll. Maybe this premise would lose steam in a longer game, but I can’t help but feel Minit wrapped up when it was just hitting its stride.
This brevity does highlight Minit’s lack of a real story. The game begins, you assist random folks who sort of point the way, then then defeat a final foe you didn’t know existed until it appeared. That’s barely a complaint, though, as a narrative was the last thing I cared about with this game.
Every bite-sized run through Minit is an engrossing endeavor. The time limit creates an effective hook that makes an otherwise solid adventure more engaging. However, the short length, inconsistent use of the clock, and sparse storytelling sometimes makes Minit feel like a neat proof-of-concept rather than a fully realized game. Despite these complaints, I had a good time–even if it lasted as long as my hero’s lifespan.
Edited by Marcus Stewart