The opening moments of Minit are challenging in the best of ways. Venturing out into the charming 8-bit world takes you back to the good old days of gaming even if you weren’t a part of them.
As a cursed avatar, your goal is to restore the world of Minit back to its former self. However, there’s one catch: you only have sixty seconds to survive. That’s right; each life gives you just a minute to run from the spawn point to whatever objective you have to solve. They say that limiting oneself is the best way to find a creative solution, and Minit will dare you to do just that.
Imagine the original Legend of Zelda but with a timer on each life. One must choose their adventures carefully. Distractions lead to death in this world. This roguelike challenges our short attention spans by forcing us to work on one quest path at a time if we want to get anything done.
You’ll enjoy fundamental objectives like fighting off “x amount” of this creature or the occasional fetch quest, but the real fun is in the unique time-based trials that Minit presents.
One likely favorite will be the slow-talking elder near the lighthouse early on. Their speech bubble slowly and agonizingly portrays each letter to present a hint, but this is just one of many ways the developers showcase how much fun they had when developing this game. There isn’t a traditional quest log. Instead, you figure out what you need to do based on the events unfolding around the world.
A signpost points the way to a hidden temple? Chances are you’ll find a new tool in there. A locked door in the way? There has to be another path somewhere near. Not only must you solve problems in a minute, but you also have to find those problems.
Adapting will take some time, but players who pay attention will find small hints buried everywhere. NPC’s will casually mention an area detail to check out, while other secrets are callbacks to older video games. I won’t spoil anything here, but Minit provides enough help to prevent getting stuck for long.
It took me around 3 hours for my first completion with most collectibles and items found. Fortunately, the game allows you to go back and see the rest of the secrets. Otherwise, a New Game Plus mode limits players to one health point and forty seconds of time, all while adding new enemies and shuffling around objectives. These aren’t small switch-ups either. Some goals are completely turned on their head, enough to where I’m completely stuck in my current playthrough. There is a third mode as well, but I couldn’t complete NG+ in time to try it out.
From the smallest treetop to the most prominent boss, everything in Minit is lovingly animated. Deserts, factories, hotels, and oceans make up the journey, and their respective creatures have their small quirks to admire. I enjoyed fighting a crazed ghost in an empty desert as much as swimming frantically away from sharks in the ocean.
I particularly loved the upbeat retro-themed soundtrack. It’s appropriately fast and seems to speed up the more hectic the situation. Even the most ordinary act of watering of a plant feels intense with ten seconds of life and these tracks blasting in your ears.
There isn’t much bad to say about Minit. My one wish is that the game was longer. I credit the small development team for creating and balancing as many challenges as they did, and I only found myself wanting more upon completion. It was over before I knew it, but the extra modes should be enough to keep players satisfied.
Minit is a love letter to retro gaming. Instead of just rehashing an old idea, the four developers took the original Zelda experience and placed a fresh twist on it. In doing so, they’ve created one of the most unique games of the year so far. I can only hope to see more of the Minit formula in the future, but what we have right now is something to celebrate.
This review was based on a digital review code for Minit on Xbox One, provided by Devolver Digital. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam.