Play Minit to Win It: Minit Review
Minit is a cool black and white top down game. In it, you play as Minit, who only has a minute to live. Throughout the game, you collect items that allow you to access more parts of the map. I know what you’re thinking: “Items that let you access more parts of the map? That sounds like a Metroidvania!” But hold on, there’s more to Metroidvanias than that. So, is Minit a Metroidvania?
Before we answer that question, let’s get the basics out of the way. The graphics are very simple, but well animated. They very clearly and concisely explain what is going on. The visual communication of this game is very good. The music sets the mood very nicely and fits very well into a game where you’re always rushing around to get things done in time. The sound effects also very helpfully communicate what is going on.
The controls are very simple, but very elegant. You have the standard movement controls, and then one button to activate your currently equipped item. You also have one button for manually resetting your time, so you don’t have to wait those extra 27 seconds before starting a new run from your house.
Talking to NPCs is easy. You just walk up to them and they start talking, no button presses necessary. This is made easier by the fact that they don’t lock you into position when someone is talking to you. When you walk away, they stop talking. The only downside to this is that sometimes the NPC dialogue boxes take up screen space that you need to figure out what you’re doing.
What you’re doing throughout most of the game is collecting items to access new areas. A lot of these items are merely keys, like the flashlight and the literal lighthouse key. However, some of these items actually do change the way you play the game.
Note: The rest of this review was written over a year after playing the game.
For example, the very first item you pick up, the sword, not only changes how you play the game, but also abruptly upends Minit’s life entirely. It allows Minit to cut through bushes, but also severely cuts Minit’s life short. After 1 minute elapses, the sword sends Minit back to their spawn. This is the main gameplay mechanic of this game.
Because you only have a limited time to live, you have a limited distance you can cover. To solve this, and allow you to access more areas, Minit can find beds and other resting areas that become the new spawn point, allowing you to start the cycle further along.
But even this is insufficient, as there are areas like the vast desert that stretch out indefinitely. An area like this with no invisible walls, conveniently placed unclimbable mountains, or skyboxes with ceilings can only exist in a game where time is limited. The time limit allows the area to be limitless because the player can’t actually travel to infinity before time runs out.
Unless they have the boots. The boots allow Minit to run even faster, gaining them access to more parts of the game than previously possible. They’re basically like a permanent run button, and this ability is even more impactful in a game where every cycle is a speedrun, even for casual players. They still don’t let infinitely explore the desert, tho.
So Minit has at least two items you get that allow access to new areas, change the way you play the game, and are necessary to beat the game. In addition, it has one open interconnected world that allows you to use them to their fullest potential. I’d say that qualifies as a Metroidvania.
Overall, I’d say it’s a fun little game. The time looping mechanic is very unique and very rare. Not many games have this mechanic. One reason is because it’s viewed as a negative to many. This mechanic forces the player to lose progress on a regular basis, even when the player does nothing wrong. However, Minit reduces this problem with forward spawn points, persistent item collection, and a manual reset cycle button.
Despite its perception, it’s honestly a mechanic I look forward to seeing more of in the future. This one limitation provides a unique solution to some other game design problems. One such problem is that of unnatural NPC dialogue. Ever talk to an NPC after they’ve got done talking, and find that they say the same thing over and over on repeat? It’s rather unnatural, but we’ve gotten so used to it as gamers, that we don’t even bat an eye. Yet if someone did that in real life, it’d be eerie. The main reason developers do this is because having an AI system that can generate appropriate responses is prohibitively expensive, and handcrafting infinite dialogue for each character is impractical. This is where time loops come in. By imposing a time limit, that NPC can’t talk forever. Now, instead of repeating the same line, or talking forever, the cycle interrupts the NPC, preserving the illusion that the NPC is a living breathing character. Minit takes full advantage of this. One of the very first NPCs you meet will literally talk to you all day. But of course, they can’t, because the day ends before then. Something like this wouldn’t work in other games. This is one problem in particular that time loops solve, and is part of the genius of Minit.
Minit is a fun little metroidvania. It has items that act as abilities and influence the core mechanic of the game. It fully utilizes its time loop mechanic and plays off of it in interesting ways. I enjoyed every minit of it.