You have only 60 seconds to live. What do you do? How do you spend that brief minute before you die? Perform various odd jobs? Go on a boat ride to a distant island? Wander around an endless desert? Save the world? How about all the above?
That’s the idea behind Minit, a series of 60 second adventures from developers Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Jukio Kallio, and Dominik Johann. It all begins one day when you head down to the beach and pick up a sword that washed ashore. Unfortunately, the sword is cursed. Whoever holds it is doomed to live their life in 60 second chunks, the wielder dying once time expires. This is your life now — until you find a way to destroy the sword, anyway. From there, you set off to find some way to rid yourself of the curse, helping out a bunch of people along the way. It’s a delightfully absurd premise that leads into equally absurd play.
The basic structure revolves around completing tasks to earn items that grant you new abilities so you can explore further. Slaying a few crabs for a local restaurant owner grants you a cup of coffee, for instance, which in turn allows you to move heavy objects. That then allowed me to grab the lighthouse key that then led me to a flashlight so I could explore caves, which then led me to find gardening gloves so I could cut down trees, which then… you get the idea. Every new item opens up more of the world, as well as a bunch of shortcuts to make it easier to move around swiftly.
With only 60 seconds to complete any of these tasks, you might think Minit to be a game of frantic time management and optimization. A game wherein every 60 seconds is a mad dash to get to the next objective and complete it so you can slowly but steadily make marginal progress. In reality, it’s extremely chill. Sixty seconds is just long enough to let you poke around and see what’s possible without feeling like a waste of time. Does cutting down all the trees here do anything? What about watering some of those blades of grass? Maybe taking a photo will do something? Minit allows you to test ideas and iterate them quickly because the time limit doesn’t constrain, but rather encourages experimentation.
Consider if Minit had, instead of only giving you 60 seconds, three minutes per life. With so much time, you wouldn’t be so quick to try silly ideas just to see if they’d work because you’d be able to carefully comb over every scene and work out what you can and can’t interact with. But because you have so little time, you naturally feel compelled to move fast, never giving anything much deep thought on your first few passes because, hey — the clock’s ticking. Any ideas I came up with always came about later while I was doing other things, prompting me to backtrack and give it a shot and see if I was onto something.
The game’s many secrets are a good example of this. Back at E3 last year, I was told just about every scene had some kind of secret to uncover, something to do. Maybe it’s a wall that reveals itself to be a pushable block, or a pot covering a staircase. Whatever the case, these secrets are hidden everywhere, encouraging you to try anything and everything to see what happens. Most of the time my searching amounted to nothing, but those few moments where something did happen were enough to keep trying. If I had more than 60 seconds available, I probably would have still been plenty determined to seek out whatever coins, items, and puzzles I hadn’t found, but the process of tracking them down and deducing what to do wouldn’t have been nearly as fun or exciting.
By the time I finished Minit, there was still a lot to find and see. Places I hadn’t been able to access, items I had yet to discover, puzzles still yet to be solved. Even now I still occasionally think about jumping back in to try figure out where the remaining coins hide, what the last items are, how to solve those perplexing puzzles. If Minit weren’t so well-suited to short play sessions, I don’t know I’d still be thinking about those loose ends.