Minit is an adventure game from developer JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom; and publisher Devolver Digital. After finding a sword washed up on the beach, you are cursed with a minute-long life, and must use your time wisely to explore the world and break the curse. The developer’s debut title is a unique concept, and the gameplay shines due to the element of time management.
Minit starts out feeling like an homage to The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, in that both player characters wake in a home and must find a sword washed up on the shore. The pixelated and monochromatic art style only lends further to that comparison. When the sword is finally retrieved and the curse unleashed, a timer is added to the screen, starting the core mechanic of the game. Every 60 seconds, without fail, the player character will die. This brings the player back to their home, where they must use their knowledge and any items previously acquired to further their progress. Minit makes good use of this mechanic to deliver a unique experience in which players must battle enemies and time itself to proceed through the game.
The earliest example of time management comes in the form of an elderly man who, due to his advanced age, speaks slowly. Players must stand by and read his slow moving words as he tries to tell you where to find a treasure. Unfortunately, because of the amount of time it takes him to speak, it's unlikely a player can do anything else within that lifetime. A swift death and rebirth will bring the player back home, and they can use the new information to find the treasure. Not every character or opportunity will so succinctly exemplify the curse mechanic but, starting out, it is a great example of what to expect from Minit.
Eventually, the game starts to feel like a playable Groundhog Day, the film whose main character relived the same day tens of thousands of times. Players will start to use all of their time and information wisely to maximise their efficiency, and the game feels rewarding when things come together that way. Receiving an item or two in a life is nice, but finding four or five makes the player feel like they’re understanding the game incredibly well.
As an adventure game, Minit shines in allowing the player to explore the world. The timer is restrictive at first, but players will eventually find another home, which allows them to start their next life there. This opens up the game tremendously and makes the time limit less imposing, allowing players to explore more of the world, which is its own reward. Additionally, nearly every screen the player can access has something to find, whether it’s an item, information, or money. Early in the game, this makes the world rewarding to explore, but as the story nears its end, it becomes an annoyance to retrace your progress and find out where the last few items are hidden. Thankfully, the game can be completed without finding every item.
Minit is a game that oozes charm, graphically and musically, and it cannot be understated how well the music is implemented. The world is divided into three or four key locations, and each has its own music. Due to Minit’s repetitive gameplay loop, I expected to be bored or annoyed of the music early on, but the game avoids this by starting the songs at a different point with each death. Since each theme is nearly five minutes long, this gives the illusion of five unique songs for each main area, but with each fitting an overarching theme. Additionally, Minit’s pixel art style is beautifully rendered, with characters and locales defined very clearly. Despite using only black and white, the game is never confusing or misleading, as far as the art is concerned.
As a bite-sized adventure, Minit is well worth the 10 USD price of admission. The gameplay, art, music, and overall charm makes the relatively short ride very enjoyable. Beating the game even unlocks a harder 40-second mode with numerous changes to the world, almost making it feel like a new adventure. With such a strong debut, it's exciting to see what the developer will do next.