Minit is the adventure game distilled down to its purest and simplest form. Developed by a team of independent developers whose combined credits include Horizon: Zero Dawn, Celeste, and Nuclear Throne, this is a top-down, open world adventure game you play a minute at a time. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it somehow does through a mixture of a cleverly structured world and straightforward design.
The nameless player character finds a sword on the shore that, unfortunately, is cursed, affording its wielder just 60 seconds to live. A concerned fellow suggests you make your way to the factory, and thus begins your quest to lift the curse and find out what's going on. Much like its 1-bit presentation, Minit's story is pleasingly simple. Clearly a lot of effort has been put into trimming as much of the fat as possible, as it's a running theme through the game, from its art style to its puzzles. It's just as well, because had the game been any more complex than it needed to be, the imposition of a one-minute lifespan would've made the game unplayable.
Happily, Minit is much more than just playable. You start each 60-second run from your house, and can explore in whatever direction you like. The game's map is cleverly segregated like the world's smallest Metroidvania, meaning there are areas you can see but can't yet reach, and many of your initial lives will be spent figuring out which way you're meant to go. These first few minutes as you find your feet can be a little frustrating, as you'll quickly discover that a minute isn't long when you're unsure of where to go. However, instant restarts assuage this, and once you've got your bearings and have a feel for the game's rhythm, you'll realise how compelling it all is.
Some NPCs dotted around the map offer you miniature quests, each one rewarding you with a new item. Your gathered items are kept, and generally allow you to explore further or navigate the world more easily. An early example is a coastal café, where the barista bemoans the pesky crabs nearby. If you take care of the crabs and speak to them again, you'll be given a cup of coffee, which imparts the ability to push boxes around. Once you have a few items, Minit begins to open up, and because of the minute long lives and a well designed map, it isn't long before you memorise entire areas.
In addition to your starting house, there are a few other locations from which you can respawn. Entering one marks it as your new home, extending your reach beyond the first few parts of the map. The more you play, the more you begin to realise has been packed into Minit's short run time of a couple of hours. Once you find the shoe shop in the desert, you'll be made aware of the existence of coins, which are cunningly hidden throughout the environment. There are also hearts to find, which add extra hit points to your health bar. These extra collectibles both come in handy, and you'll be probing the world as much as you're able in search of secrets.
Controls are, again, extremely simple; you move around with the d-pad or left stick, attack with X plus a direction, and circle allows you to restart from your current home. Enemies go down quickly and easily, as you might expect, and rarely pose much of a threat. Your biggest foe will be the timer, but unless you become truly stuck, even that won't cause much annoyance. Minit does its best to keep things light, as well, poking fun at itself with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. An elderly NPC that talks extremely slowly, for example, is both funny and frustrating.
As we've already mentioned, the game's run time is brief, but once you've seen the credits roll, New Game + is unlocked, where you can either start the normal game afresh, or start it in Second Run, which introduces small changes to the timer and the world. It's clear that this is a game you're meant to play a few times, and once you start, it can be hard to stop, such is the compulsive nature of the game's flow. To say much more about the game would be to spoil it and its secrets, but know that Minit's pleasant simplicity and charm, though not for everyone, holds true from beginning to end.
Minit is a lighthearted and cleverly designed adventure that successfully builds a game around a peculiar premise. Playing in 60-second bursts can initially be frustrating, but once you wrap your head around the game's structure, it becomes an addictive and memorable little title that doesn't outstay its welcome. The abundance of secrets makes the game much deeper than it may seem, too. The running theme of simplicity means that not everyone will enjoy what Minit has to offer, but for less than a tenner, this stripped back adventure title is more interesting than some games ten times its size.