Minit Review – Time After Time (PS4)
Folks, give me a moment of your time—a minute, if you will—to discuss one of the latest titles in the indie scene. From Jan Willem Nijman (of Vlambeer), Kitty Calis (with work on Horizon Zero Dawn), Jukio Kallio (video game music composer), and Dominik Johann (of Crows Crows Crows) comes Minit, a black-and-white 1-bit puzzle adventure. I list each member of the team solely because I think they need individual praise for their work here; Minit is fantastic.
Published by Devolver Digital, Minit has a clever premise—you die every sixty seconds. Starting the moment you pick up a cursed sword, you have one full minute to accomplish your goals in the world. After each death, you begin anew at your house, with certain feats and items progressing through each run. As you traverse the interconnected world, you must solve environmental puzzles to find the path forward and free yourself from this curse.
What an Enjoyable Night to Have a Curse
Bear in mind, though, this is not a roguelike. This is more akin to Majora’s Mask; each run builds on the last one in interesting ways. Perhaps you must loop around a twisting forest, which takes most of your minute. At the end, you’ll more than likely find a new puzzle, along with an item that will make your next forest traversal quicker. Maybe you’ll even find a new home to set as your next respawn point!
Everything here serves a purpose—even some of the background periphery that you’d expect to mean nothing. In a way, Minit is reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure—you find an item, and immediately think of multiple spots where it could come in handy. Suddenly shortcuts open up to quickly return from your respawn home to the newest mystery. These discoveries snowball, as one puzzle gives way to the next, and further opens solutions to situations you were stuck in during the early-game.
The most brilliant concept in Minit is the many endearingly quirky ways in which it wastes your precious time. For example, early on, you meet an old man who chats about his love of the sea—very slowly. Just when you think he’s almost done ranting, his text box grows larger, discussing sharks and swimming. If you found him just halfway through your minute, he’ll easily waste the rest of that life. Should you come back in a fresh run and hear him out, he’ll give you some handy advice for later in your adventure. Your sword also takes just a hair too long to swing, meaning combat is tedious, difficult, and (in its own way) rewarding. Killing five crabs in a single run, while still being able to collect your reward, feels like an actual accomplishment, rather than another mundane quest.
These little distractions may cost you a life, but they don’t get frustrating. They add personality to the experience and toss some suspense into each run. Will you make it straight to the beach this time? Or will the game joke with you, holding you from your goal? Either way, you’ll restart in your home soon enough, and both paths will be equally fun.
Besides these twists and turns, Minit is filled with enthralling little puzzles that take just the appropriate amount of time to finish. If you think quickly, you’ll make significant progress each run, either grabbing a new item for your next life, or at least finding a helpful hint on how to use your upcoming spawn. Some puzzles do take quite a few attempts to figure out, though, which can be frustrating when it takes 30 seconds to walk to the puzzle. These roadblocks are few and far between, and for the most part, you’ll be flying through each screen in style.
Time Keeps on Slipping
The largest tick against Minit is its length, as it feels like it flies by in just a minute. My run lasted an hour and twenty minutes, with over 50% completion. I wanted to jump back into my save and find all the things I’d missed, but sadly, could find no option to do so. I can only play right after the final boss, with many paths blocked off, or I can begin a new, tougher adventure. Sure, the game is short, and I would easily recover my progress in an hour or so. I may also dive into these new adventures to hunt for trophies. But I’d love to explore the world a further with my newest items.
Minit is fantastic at multitasking which genre is wants to be. Sometimes it feels like an energetic top-down adventure, before it morphs to take on the thrill of speedrunning. It even delves into the mystery of puzzle games and point-and-clicks, too. Juggling concepts usually spells doom for indie titles, but Minit pulls it off with finesse. It’s not great because it borrows ideas from multiple genres. It’s great because of the way it uses genuinely interesting mechanics to try something new. I found myself wanting to die time after time, if only to keep myself in the adventure longer. Minit is pure fun from beginning to end, and it’s too short for its own good. When length is the only complaint against a game, I think that’s saying something.
Minit review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please see our Review Policy.