An often-repeated idea in many gaming spaces is a game is only as valuable as how many hours of entertainment it provides. Games that provide dozens or hundreds of hours of content are hyped up, while games that are shorter or have a defined end are seen as a waste of money. I vehemently disagree with this mindset. Extremely long or open-ended games are usually bloated with tons of filler or subpar content. I much prefer shorter games that have a well-defined structure that isn’t beaten to death over the course of 100 hours. An extreme example of bite-sized experience is the indie game Minit.
Minit is a top-down adventure game that is clearly inspired by the original The Legend of Zelda games. Like the adventure games of old, you run around the world with sword in hand, solving puzzles and conquering foes. The twist of Minit is that every 60 seconds you die and are reborn at your home base. Every minute is a frantic rush to progress forward in some way, whether it be exploring a foreign area, solving a puzzle, or unlocking a new item.
Dying and respawning every minute causes the player to think about what they want to achieve in such a short time frame. Minit is incredibly tightly designed, I was shocked quickly I could traverse the world. I initially assumed that I would frequently run out of time having achieved nothing in a minute, but the map is so compact and dense that it was always simple to discover something of interest. The interconnected nature of the world allowed for quick navigation. Unlocking new items would allow access to previously inaccessible areas, and exploring these areas often revealed shortcuts to other parts of the map.
One of my main gripes with Minit was that it infrequently actually made use of its timer mechanic outside of just resetting the cycle. I do enjoy the concept of only having a minute in each cycle, as it forced such tight game design and pushes the player to carefully route their path through the world. However, most of the puzzles, exploration, and combat never utilize this mechanic at all.
There are a few clever uses such as interacting with a man who speaks very slowly, so if you want to hear what he says you must reach him early in the cycle. But for the most part the only impact that the minute long cycle has on the game is emoti the player to move quickly and with purpose. Interestingly, you could remove the minute long cycle and the game would still function perfectly well. I do think that it is still a worthwhile addition in how it motivates the player to maneuver through the game.
A common sentiment in many gaming spaces is the idea that games as a product should provide you with a sufficient amount of content to justify their price. I don’t wholeheartedly agree with this line of thinking as it is how we end up with 100-hour slog fests with repeated and tedious content. I much prefer if games deliver a focused experience, only including the very best that the designers had to offer. That being said, Minit is short. Incredibly short. Minit took me a little over an hour to complete. Even if I went hunting for all the hidden collectibles, I doubt it would’ve taken me more that 2 hours to 100% complete the game.
To be honest, I was refreshed with how short Minit was. It definitely did not overstay it’s welcome, which is one of the most pervasive issues that I have with games. But I think Minit is too extreme on the other end of the spectrum. There were definitely more ideas that could have been explored. Especially considering that the game barely scratched the surface when it came to time or cycle-based mechanics.
Overall, Minit is a short but sweet adventure harkening back to the games of yesteryear. I quite enjoyed the use of the minute long cycles and how they influenced the world design, but it felt underused when it came to game mechanics. If anything, Minit is a fun little adventure if you don’t feel like committing to a grandiose globetrotting RPG that spans dozens of hours. But if you are looking for a more comprehensive experience, you may have better luck elsewhere.