Minutes PS4 Vita First Impressions

Without meaning to sound like a jaded so-and-so, the one problem with reporting on video games is that they rarely have the ability to surprise. As an infant, this particular editor used to relish trips to underground game stores where shelves of import titles gazed gleefully back – every single one of them a mysterious entity with a story to tell. These days, there’s not a lot that this ageing scribe couldn’t tell you about the PlayStation 4 and its predecessor, which means that it’s extra special when we happen upon a title that we’ve never heard of before.

Minutes is one such release. Poised unassumingly in the upstairs section of the EGX 2014 showfloor, its cramped booth’s PlayStation branding quickly confused us – as we’d never actually heard of it before. We’ve since learned that the arcade-inspired escapade’s the work of Richard Ogden, a fairly noteworthy figure in the Sony Computer Entertainment scene for being one of the co-founders of the now sadly shuttered first-party outfit BigBig Studios. With a slew of strong titles already to his name – including a personal favourite, Pursuit Force – it’s no surprise that this underpublicized PlayStation 4 and Vita outing is shaping up nicely.

Anyone that’s ever actively enjoyed messing around with Photoshop’s eraser tool while jamming to thumping techno tunes will feel right at home here. Described as a “twisted form of bullet hell”, the title ostensibly sees you controlling a non-descript circle through hazardous scenes, with the objective being to avoid deadly black matter, while scooping up coloured matter instead. It sounds very simple on paper, but the underlying genius comes from the fact that you can change the size of the circle, increasing your score multiplier in the process – but also the likelihood that you’ll make a mistake. As the name suggests, you’ve got a minute to hit a required score quota, with each level boasting a trio of targets Angry Birds style.

To add an additional layer of complexity, the full version will also boast power-ups, but because we were playing the early levels, we didn’t get to see any of these during our brief hands-on demo. The trailer embedded below hints at screen clearing powders and a particularly potent shield, however, so expect plenty of variety over the course of the title’s 60 single player levels. There’ll also be a daily challenge, which – surprise, surprise – will randomly generate a stage every day, giving you a reason to keep returning. Well, for a minute or two at least.

The game’s currently targeting a 29th October release date, which doesn’t give the title’s one-man developer a lot of time to get the message out. Selfishly, though, we’re delighted that we hadn’t heard of this hidden gem prior to playing it, because, for 60 seconds or so, as we guided an inconspicuous circle around an enormous television screen, we remembered what it felt like to be surprised again.

Have you got time during this busy holiday season for one more downloadable game? Do you also miss happening upon titles that you’ve never heard of before? Take a minute to leave a comment in the space below.