Minit is a small game, in almost every sense of the word. It features 1-bit, black and white graphics, plays for only 60 seconds at a time, runs within a tiny 640×480 window, allows you to carry only one item at a time, and can be completed in just a few hours. By most any definition, it’s a tiny little thing, yet it contains a big adventure, filled with imagination and a unique approach to the action adventure genre. Minit is gaming stripped to its most simplistic form, and created something amazing.
The game’s opening reminds me of old school Legend of Zelda titles, you wake up inside a house without directions, instructions, or any sort of guide, and wander about using the arrow keys until you find a sword. Once armed, you’re able to use the X button to destroy barrels, plants, and slay enemies. Blocks, rivers, and other obstacles bar your way as you begin to explore, meeting other characters, unlocking new tools and equipment, and gaining access to more and more of the map. This simplicity also meant that I could put down the game and come back without feeling lost or overwhelmed, leaving me excited to dive back in whenever I had a minute (See what I did there?) to spare.
You quickly learn to plan your wandering, because you literally only have one minute to play before the game over screen interrupts your grand adventure. While this may sound like a frustrating, anxiety-causing mechanic, it somehow takes a lot of the pressure out of the game. If you’re going to die anyway, you may as well spend your last 20 seconds wandering in an unknown direction. If something kills you, you were going to die anyway, you don’t have to worry about backtracking out of a dead end, and if something kills you, well, you were going to die anyway, so you may as well go for it.
Ironically, I the most frustrating element of this game had nothing to do with the game itself, it was the Steam integration. Every time I unlocked a new Steam achievement, the popup informing me of my success would block a significant portion of the screen, causing me to either waste extremely precious seconds waiting for it to go away, or to wander blindly behind the popup, risking collision with an enemy, or accidentally stepping off into another screen, something very bad in areas such as the desert.
The pixel art, while simple, is very expressive and does an outstanding job communicating both environments and objects, outside of the occasional invisible barriers, such as shallow water, which you can walk through, versus deep water, which you cannot. As lightweight and pick-up, put-down friendly as this title is, I was surprised and a bit disappointed to see that it is only available for PC and consoles; I yearn to play this game while on-the-go, and hope to see it available for the Vita, 3DS or Switch in the future.
The map is impressively large, taking you through dungeons, across oceans, deep into vast deserts, and trekking through graveyards. A map this big combined with a sudden-death-after-60-seconds mechanic would normally create a simple logistical issue; fortunately, the game allows you to uncover new ‘homes,’ new spawn locations which are carefully sprinkled throughout the map. Whichever house you last entered is where you will start your next game, allowing you to delve deeper into the world without spending all your previous seconds walking from point A to point B. Mini also has a way of effectively moving you back and forth across the map without the use of fetch quests. I honestly found that I did not mind backtracking at all, because I was worried that I’d missed things during my earlier escapades in that area.
There’s a lot to uncover, from hidden treasures to heart containers, monsters to slay to NPCs who need errands run, and the more you uncover, the more exciting this simple little world becomes. As simple as it is, there’s a depth to the world, and without tutorials to hold your hand and NPCs rambling on about the history and rules of the world, I found myself transported back to a different era of gaming, remembering days spent with adventure games and my Nintendo Entertainment System, when a lack of clear history meant I could write my own story around this world. But why are you constantly dying every 60 seconds? That’s yet another thing you’ll have to uncover while taking on this fragmented yet epic adventure.
Minit is a tiny gem of an indie title, easy to overlook but not to be missed. It's overflowing with secrets to be found, mysteries to be solved, and adventures to be had 60 seconds at a time. The bite-sized nature only adds to the charms and addictive nature of this 1-bit action-adventure game. With the small price tag of $9.99, it's more than worth a minute of your time.