The adventure role-playing game Minit challenges you to see how much you can accomplish in 60 seconds. It’s the first game from developers Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Jukio Kallio, and Dominik Johann, all of whom have plenty of industry chops. The team has partnered with publisher Devolver Digital to launch the title on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on April 3.
Minit runs with the idea of bite-sized questing in an RPG world inspired by classics like The Legend of Zelda and reminiscent of Marvelous Entertainment’s Half-Minute Hero. It’s got a black-and-white retro aesthetic and a mysterious map with plenty of secrets to find, dungeons to crawl, and objects to collect. But you’ll only be able to explore in minute-long chunks — after you pick up a cursed sword at the start, you have only 60 seconds to live. When the time runs down, you die and respawn back at your house. And then it’s time to give it another go.
When I played a preview copy, I enjoyed the challenge of splitting my forays up into miniature tasks. Whatever you’ve accomplished persists, so you’re not starting from scratch each time. In the first area of the map, you respawn in your house when you die — but you can also find other houses that become your spawn point, cutting down on how much you need to travel between different zones. Items you find stay in your inventory as well, so it’s not simply a repetitive experience where you’re just going back and fetching the same thing over and over again.
“It’s quick if you’re short on time, but long enough for adventure,” said developer Jan Willem Nijman in an email to GamesBeat. “Timers always stress me out in games, but in Minit it’s more about figuring out how you want to spend your next minute, and getting that done efficiently. There’s not too much of ‘min-max every second’ in there, unless the player really wants to.”
Nijman is the cofounder and game designer at acclaimed Dutch indie studio Vlambeer, which is known for titles like Nuclear Throne and Ridiculous Fishing. He’s joined on Minit by folks with equally impressive resumes, all united by the desire to create a quick, fun game after wrapping up hefty projects.
“Jukio Kallio and I came from Nuclear Throne, which had taken 2.5 years to complete, Kitty Calis had just finished work as a producer on Horizon Zero Dawn, Dominik Johann made wild VR games like Accounting+,” said Nijman. “Working on this tiny 1-bit game after all that was really refreshing and fun.”
Nijman and Calis came up with the initial idea for Minit at the Adventure Time Game Jam a few years ago. Their concept was to create a game that presented players with new adventures every minute. As the idea evolved and they decided to pursue it, they recruited Kallio and Johann to the cause.
Minit’s fairly restrictive, not just because of its time limit, but because of the mechanics. You can only carry one tool at a time — such as a sword or a watering can — and it uses basically only one button to interact with everything. When I played it, though, I found its simplicity enhanced the fun.
I had to get creative and seek out secrets, and each time I died, I came back with a new game plan. Sometimes it was because I saw the solution to a puzzle right before the clock ran down. Other times, I resurrected with the determination to see if the endless desert really went on forever or if I could make it to the other side in under a minute.
“The design is quite open-ended, and filled with secret shortcuts and skippable bits, so it’ll be fascinating to see what the speedrunning community does with that,” said Nijman. “While the main game is mostly about being curious and figuring out how to spend your next minute, players can also unlock the extremely challenging Second Run mode, in which (amongst other surprising changes) you only get 40 seconds per life.”