Minit, a Game About Living 60 Seconds at a Time, Is Worth Hours of Your Life

I never expected a game about a character with a minute-long lifespan to be as whimsical, engaging and laid-back as Minit, but then again I didn't know what to expect.

As soon as I saw a trailer, I reached out to the creators, who were kind enough to send me a code for the game on the PlayStation 4. I booted up the game to start my first 60-second adventure.

It began with my duck-billed character in its tiny home. There was a crackling fireplace, a cozy bed and a sweet dog running back and forth across the house. Things seemed normal, if not a bit uneventful.

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(Minit via Devolver Digital)

Even as I stepped outside, there didn't seem to be much to do. Things were quiet, but obstacles blocked my path down most routes, and crabs by the shore pinched me when I got too close. Finally, I spotted a sword in the sand. As soon as I picked it up, a counter started ticking down from 60 seconds.

It turns it the sword was cursed, limiting my lifespan to a minute—and that's what makes Minit different from anything else I'd ever played. I'd die every 60 seconds, immediately waking up again at home. Death isn't something to fear in Minit. Instead, it simply set a timeframe for my actions, and could even be used as a tool. I could die whenever I'd like with the press of a button, instantly sending me back home. After all, when you only have a minute to live, you don't want to spend it backtracking constantly.

Because the game is played in 60-second chunks, it's all about progressing a tiny bit at a time until you can free the character from its curse. The deaths become an inevitable part of its life, and I learned something new almost every run. It also helped them when I acquired a key item, it remained in my inventory even after I perished, so I was always moving forward.

This gimmick makes for some truly interesting scenarios. When I only had a minute, trudging through quicksand or climbing up a stupidly tall ladder made my heart beat faster as I wondered whether I'd make it in time. When characters spoke slowly or asked me to wait in a long line, the urgency makes the situation seem absurd.

Minit: Slow-talking character in front of lifehouse

(Minit via Devolver Digital)

However, I was surprised at how little the game stressed me out. The time limit never felt too restricting because the world was so easy to navigate, despite the fact that there are no maps and I'm terrible with directions. I'm usually unnerved by in-game timers, whether it's breathable air in an underwater level, or an evil moon crashing into the earth in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. By making the character's death less punishing, the game trained me to embrace it.

Each time I ventured out from home, I discovered a little more about the world around me and took note of areas that seemed to require tools I hadn't yet acquired. On multiple occasions, I scratched my head as I returned to the same area time and time again, trying to solve a puzzle that wasn't coming together.

But if every part of the map could be reached in a minute from the starting point, the game wouldn't be very big at all. As I explored and made progress, I'd occasionally discover other lodgings, from metal trailers to island shacks to hotel rooms, which would become my new starting point after death.

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(Minit via Devolver Digital)

This game is absolutely littered with secrets, and I discover more with every life. Anytime something looks interesting or out of place, it's almost certainly a clue to dig deeper. Eventually, I hope to locate every hidden item the game offers.

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(Minit via Devolver Digital)

Occasionally, solving Minit's puzzles makes me feel really clever, like when I figured out what to do with a bone I found in a graveyard, or on a few occasions where patience paid off, despite the ever-ticking timer.

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(Minit via Devolver Digital)

At one point in the game, you can activate helpful, hint-revealing ghosts—though they tend to speak only in riddles. Their clues are perfectly cryptic, and there are a few I'm still trying to figure out. One ghost tells me that snakes are friends—but how will that help me when touching a snake hurts me?

At one point, I started taking notes so that when I found the next items I'd know exactly where to go next. Where were the rest of those octopus tentacles, and where would two more of the coins necessary to purchase a pair of running shoes? Where would I find a bottle of water to save the parched guy in the desert? Slowly, it all came together in a way that felt organic and seriously fun.

Much of Minit's genius lies in its simplicity. The entire game is in pixellated black and white and the soundtrack is simple 8-bit music, but the aesthetic never feels boring and there's charm around every corner. There really isn't time to get bored, since you're always rushing from place to place, trying to figure things out. Its compelling gameplay kept me playing until the very end—and made me start up a new save file the moment it was over.

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(Minit via Devolver Digital)

My first run took me nearly two hours to complete, and there was so much I hadn't figured out at the end of it. On subsequent playthroughs, I've been more thorough as I've tried to find everything I missed the first time around.

Minit isn't a big game by any means (the current record is just over seven minutes of playtime) but it's worth every 60-second step of the journey.

 

Minit costs $9.99 and is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.