Played on Windows.
Also available on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, macOS
The idea of time travel has been one that has fascinated people for centuries and likely longer. The idea of time loops is a little more recent and while it’s been in pop culture for the last 70 years, it grew in popularity with Groundhog Day. Minit is the latest game to jump on this trend and try to do something unique with it. Does it?
Just as I was set to publish my thoughts on the Humble Monthly Bundle for April 2019, I found out Minit was added to the bundle. While I normally wouldn’t have delayed my coverage, Minit is a game I’ve heard enough about that I was compelled to cover it as well, so I’m back again to talk about one more game. With that said, let’s give Minit its moment, and I’ll promise not to abuse the time puns.
Minit’s graphics are a bit plain. There’s definitely a style to them but unless players have played many Gameboy games they might not recognize this. However, it’s clear that Minit has taken a lot of inspiration from the Game Boy version of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Even to name a song “Minit’s Awakening”.
Graphically Minit has a similar art style to Link’s Awakening, though admittedly it’s not as close as I expected. They both use a simple eight-bit style to the art, but Minit is monochromatic in color. Even the locations have some similarity, but really this is just seeing where Minit drew inspiration. At its core Minit is not very similar to Legend of Zelda outside of its graphics.
The game can be a little plain, but the graphics do work well.
However, the graphics are solid and almost everything in the game is clear as to what they are trying to represent. There are only a few enemy types and a few characters in the game. Minit has a really nice and large map for the game, and players will see most of it by the end of the game.
Minit is hardly the first game to try to deal with time loops, but it is one that uses one of the smallest. With just 60 seconds on the clock at any time, the player is limited in what he can do before that time runs out.
With only sixty seconds though, the game is limited in how it can tell a story. That might excuse it but there are a variety of ways Minit could still have told a similar story but I do have an issue with this.
One of my favorite innovative games was Half Minute Hero where the player raced through levels and was only given 30 seconds to reach the boss of each stage. It was a different type of game and produced a different story. While many stages were wordy having to introduce a brand new villain, give him motivation, and then set off the timer, it worked far better than it should have.
Minit, on the other hand, doesn’t even attempt to have a story until the last 10 minutes or so, when we find out how to fix the loop and someone tells us that we’re unable to stop them in only 60 seconds.
Almost no one talks at length but this guy, and it’s a joke of how slow he is.
This is fine but none of that answers all the questions the player has, such as how are they stopping time already, or what is their master plan.
There are a few other points in the game that have some story, such as a Hotel that has you find all of the guests but that’s more of an artificial lock on getting one of the most powerful items in the game. It’s not really a story, and more just puzzles you have to solve.
This is a shame because a little more lore would have made Minit feel like a more full experience then what it does, a quick game. While I’m not a fan of deep dives into these rather short experiences, I’ve seen entirely too many Five Nights at Freddie’s video that talk through the lore, even The Hex has a lot of people talking about its lore. Minit just doesn’t even try to get that complicated, and I believe it suffers for its lack of attempt for explaining itself.
I try not to penalize games that don’t attempt features. I didn’t penalize Two Points Hospital for not having a fighting mode, because it’s not a fighting game. And I will normally let the story slide, but in Minit, it ignores what’s a major part of the Time Loop lore.
Why is Time looping? Who’s making it happen? Why is our character suddenly free of it? Does he realize? Do others realize? The answer is, we don’t know anything, and while not everything has to be clear, at least some understanding should be a part of the story element. Players are welcome to make guesses, but ultimately that’s all it is, guessing.
While most games don’t require any story, Time Loops are interesting because of how they affect the world or the people in it. Otherwise, it’s just a strange mechanic. Groundhog day would have been a rather poor movie if it didn’t have Bill Murray realize what was going on. Primer only works because of the look at time travel.
Those are only movies, and I’ve said movies and video games don’t have the same story requirements, which I still believe, but even games have to make a reference to it. Minit doesn’t even explain what’s going on leaving for the user to try to understand, which is fine, but without any explanation, it becomes only a gameplay constraint and that means the game is missing something to tie it’s gameplay to the world they’re in.
Why can a player die multiple times in a level and the world just gets reset in the game, “it’s just gameplay”, but Time Loops as a concept is more than just gameplay. We accept a quick reset in games because that’s how games are, but here we’re able to retain what we collect over the course of a run. Minit owes the player more than just implying that time loops are a simple part of the gameplay systems, and not part of its world or story because that’s a more interesting piece of the concept.
Finally, we have the gameplay of Minit, as I mentioned, Minit is heavily focused on the concept of how much gameplay can you have in 60 seconds. After acquiring the sword at the beginning of the game, the player is limited to see what he can do in 60 seconds. After 60 seconds, he dies and is returned to his home. From there, the player is giving the same 60 seconds and another shot at the entire game.
It’s a good concept and a great way to play with Time Loops. Minit is hardly the first game to use the technique, but its tight timer makes it a little more interesting, as the player continually will explore the same area.
Unfortunately, most of the game is about repetition, trying to do slightly better or different than your last attempt, and figuring out the major features of the game. There’s no randomness, so the player just has to keep exploring or trying different things to figure out how to proceed.
The time loop though works against Minit, mostly in that it’s not consistent. In one case, close to the house, the player has to do a repetitive action to earn a reward. In another, the player has to complete a task of killing five enemies before he’ll get a reward, and others are just permanent upgrades such as a key to the lighthouse.
This is a major hub in the game.
Minit doesn’t really decide how the time loops should work and keeps changing the rules over the course of the game. Saving a person might leave the person where they are found, send them to another part of their story, or have them appear at a hotel the player is populating. Even the final section of the game decides to suddenly change the rules one last time without telling the player.
At least when Undertale changed the rules for a boss, it was clear about those changes. In this game because of the lack of Story, Minit just has a different set of rules in that suddenly the player no longer dies and can fight a final boss without very much challenge but each rule change isn’t told to the user.
This becomes Minits biggest issue, not just that it doesn’t tell a single story, but it never is consistent with itself. In most games after the game has a tutorial, there are rarely major functionality changes, and when there are, the player is given time to get accustomed to the new rules, usually through a new tutorial or a hard boss fight that allows the player to learn the rules.
But because Minit is always played on that 60-second timer, the player rarely has time to learn the new set of rules Minit wants them to learn. Part of this is due to the fact that Minit is more of a puzzle game than a true adventure, with each puzzle requiring less than 60 seconds to solve, but it doesn’t make for a better experience.
Part of the Landscape.
I was ready for a rather quick journey with Minit, but after 80 minutes, I already had reached the end of the game. I only had to look up one answer for a puzzle and that was because I didn’t know which enemies were considered “Bandits”. The answer was extremely obvious.
Now I have watched videos based on Minit previously but I don’t think I got major spoilers there, it’s just that overall Minit is a short experience and the initial playthrough takes between one and two hours, and the additional playthroughs should take far less. Speedrunners will find a lot of enjoyable content here, but most players are not speedrunners, and similar to Action Henk, I find it hard to recommend a game specifically to those players.
There are collectibles to find in the levels but that will only add a small amount of time. Most collectibles are like the puzzles in Minit, either you know where they are or you don’t. There are a few where the player has to hit a specific part of a wall to find a wall that breaks or find a hidden location but most are just being in the right place, and a few are timed puzzles with no hints about them.
I like the concept of Minit and I like the gameplay too, but the length really hurts Minit overall, and the fact is, I wanted to give this a better score, but as I wrote my review I started to remember every game that has done a time loop mechanic before, just off the top of my head I think of Half-Minute Hero, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and The Sexy Brutale. Those three are solid games. Sadly, Minit isn’t at that level, and most of those games cost about the same. The fact that there’s so much competition that does what Minit attempts more competently affects Minit’s score.
I give Minit a
It’s a great concept, but it didn’t get fleshed out enough to give a player a consistent experience and suffers for that fact. Though the length of the game and cost does also hurt the score.
Final thoughts: A good take on the Time Loop game, but doesn’t have the legs to make it a great game. There are good moments, but it lacks a length or consistency that makes it a stronger recommendation
Stats: 2.1 hours played, 20/27 achievement earned