Developer: JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! During my relaxing break from work, I had time to finally catch up on my Switch backlog as I was away from home. I specifically went out of my way to pick up Minit on Switch instead of PC, as I knew it'd be a perfect handheld game for travel, and it's been waiting for me to start for a couple of months. Minit is a pixel-style action-adventure game played in 60-second intervals due to a cursed sword.
You start the game as a little "dude" (It's not clear what you are, a platypus maybe?) living peacefully in their home with their dog. Everything is fine until you discover a sword on the beach and, of course, pick it up. As if The Legend of Zelda hasn't conditioned us enough to always pick up the sword, the beach scene looks extremely similar to Link's Awakening. That's how a hero's adventure always starts, right? Unfortunately, the sword is cursed, and now you have sixty seconds to live. The clock ticks down, you die, and then start right back at your home. Minit could be considered a Zelda-like due to its gameplay style, but it's so different from the formula in every other way.
I'll admit, I was somewhat avoiding playing Minit due to the fact that I was worried it would make me feel too rushed and stressed. I tend to like taking my time in games to see everything. The idea that you "reset" every 60 seconds sounds like having to repeat thing over and over again, which I don't care for. However, the reset period ended up being a lot more manageable and pretty fun, almost like a sped-up Majora's Mask. Re-trying certain puzzles or fights wasn't frustrating because you can start over immediately, and it'll take you probably less than 30 seconds to get back to where you were.
Playing Minit teaches you that a minute is actually longer than it seems. When I imagine a minute, I don't imagine having time to solve a puzzle or get much of anything done. However, Minit proves that's plenty of time when you actually watch the seconds tick by. Despite this being a world where you literally can't stop for a single moment to have a conversation, the quickly appearing text bubbles make the dialogue worthwhile. There's more than you'd expect - characters have different things to say if you hit them, or even if you splash water on them. Of course, this means it was worthwhile hitting every poor, unsuspecting character in your path just to see what they would say.
Your goal is to reach the factory that produced this sword in order to figure out how to escape the sword's curse. The main antagonist of Minit is unclear for a big portion of the game, but it can easily be summed up with a sign you find in a cave that says "Factories are bad". As you get closer to your destination, you find you're not the only one who's life has been negatively affected by this "factory". Minit has a sense of humor that riffs on current social issues and trends, cementing it clearly in its time despite having a retro feel.
It's incredible what this game manages to do with only black and white and 8-bit style. Somehow the characters still have a great bit of personality and this world has depth and complexities. An energetic, exciting soundtrack makes each run different from the last. It avoids getting repetitive or exhausting, and the music always makes you feel motivated for the next run.
The dying and re-spawning becomes pretty normal, and you learn the quickest route each time to move forward in your adventure to free yourself of this curse. As morbid as it seemed the first time I accidentally pressed the button, the "self-kill" mechanism to start over you 60-second counter makes these repeated attempts much quicker and smoother. Also, there's nothing stopping you from using up a couple full runs just to walk around and explore specific areas you want to look at more closely. It's worth talking to every character and completing side quests to see some interesting interactions play out; for some characters, their dialogue and tone towards you changes as you advance through the game.
Although Minit is surprisingly short to reach the end, it gives you many ways to continue the adventure. Up for a challenge? Try second run, where you now only have 40 seconds (going against the entire title of the game) and one heart to complete the game. Want to explore the world and get to see everything without any rush? Play Mary's Mode, which is basically "third run". I'm playing through this right now and it changes the dynamics greatly - I do think the 60 seconds is what makes the game unique, but it's nice to get to explore this strange and detailed world.
Minit is one of the few games that I've actually taken the time to do a 100% completion of (technically, 110%). It's rare for me to be motivated enough to collect additional, hidden trophies or items once I've already had a satisfying ending to a game. However, when I finished Minit's main story at a mere hour and a half, not only was I craving more, but I was disappointed when the ending screen showed I only had 49% game completion. I actually decided to hit every item on the completion list, using a guide for a good bit of it, an extra step that would often deter me. I'm glad I did, because I saw much more of the game and actually ended up with a 3 hour playthrough once I had finished.
Minit is catchy and sharp, and I wish there were more of it within the main story. I may try second run, but the extra amount of challenge and intensity isn't exactly what I'm looking for. Minit lets players feel like they're "speedrunning" in a way, even if they don't have any experience of the sort. It does a lot with very simple black and white - a world with a lot of personality and full of secrets. I'd like to see something similar from the developers in the future, perhaps a sequel or spin-off of some sort.
Minit is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Google Play, and App Store.
Played on: Switch
Playtime: 3 hrs