is a game that makes death a friend.
Not an ally, exactly, but not something that breaks up the action too much. Death in Minit is always nearby, whether from enemies or from the quick advance of your sixty-second maximum lifespan. The game even has a button dedicated to killing your character mapped at all times. Death is ever present in Minit.
Which is one of the reasons I didn’t expect to be as charmed by Minit as I was. Amidst the game’s frantic running between screens and (incredible) melodic soundtrack, it hides a core of tranquil cycles that belie its more chaotic first impressions. Minit, after a while, became actually relaxing—no small feat for a game that boots you back to your house after every sixty seconds of exploration.
Where Minit shines is in the moments where it feels less like a competition between life and death and more of a directed time constraint on goals that you want to accomplish. After getting a handle on the game’s cycles, I found myself devoting entire lives to simply poking around a single screen. Trying every combination of item and weapon on each interactable object.
Reaction to as many possible player inputs is, in my eyes, one of the hallmarks of a great game. Minit is no exception. I carried the watering can (a mid-game replacement for your Cursed Sword) to almost everywhere I discovered, and was delighted to find out its myriad uses: growing plants, helping stragglers in the desert, and eliciting small bits of humorous writing from the game’s many friendly (& unfriendly) characters.
Over time, Minit felt more like a farming game than an adventure—and that’s a good thing. Games like Stardew Valley didn’t land with everyone due to their daylight time constraints. The day starts when it starts, and then you only have a certain time period to finish all your tasks before turning in for the night. Minit’s death cycle mimics this, and kept me constantly re-evaluating how I would like to explore the world this time around.
I usually don’t find myself drawn to games that openly boast about how much you are going to die in them. >Minit feels different, though. Death isn’t an enemy in Minit, just another reminder that you have another chance. Due to the design, death isn’t particularly punishing, just a gentle nudge to the player that they should try again. For a game so much about death, Minit left me more appreciative of what we can do in each life than anxious about how quickly death can come.
Dante Douglas is a writer, poet and game developer. You can find him on Twitter at @videodante.