I love it when a game subverts your expectations. Most of the time they hit the same beats.
You are a hero, you do hero things, and overcoming everything in your way is totally fine no matter what you do. A game like Spec Ops The Line was an early example where you thought you were in for a dumb generic shooter but that ending changed your whole experience. Spoiler, you were not a good guy. Minute of Islands was not what I expected.
The first thing you will notice is the absolutely cracking art style and animation. It has that weird Adventure Time design style but with a totally unique looking world. It’s familiar, but not so much in games. This immediately led me into thinking the game would be a nice chill adventure. I was wrong.
Minute of Islands has Mo waking and going up to the surface on her island to find the place is filled with a toxin as the island decays. It turns out giants usually make the air filters work on the island but they have mysteriously stopped doing their job. Mo then journeys out to get these air purifiers working again to save her island. You know, classic hero stuff.
I won’t go into spoilers too much as the narrative is pretty key to what the game has to offer, but basically Mo’s role as a hero is a lonely one. We get a lot of flashbacks and narrative moments that give us insight into her dark life. There were times where the story dragged on a bit in between game-play moments. It certainly needs the time, but doesn’t always feel like it is earned.
The main issue is the beautiful aesthetic. The game looks bloody gorgeous, but because you play on a 2D plane it becomes ridiculously hard to figure out the difference between what you can and can’t touch. I regularly had to mash buttons hoping to find an object I could interact with or try everything to see what I could walk on or climb. This is because the foreground, background, and interactive objects all blend together. Again, super beautiful, pain in the hole to play.
The gameplay is good enough. It is super basic, and the puzzles generally don’t get hard. Fortunately the game doesn’t last too long but even I wasn’t caring for the gameplay by the end. That’s kinda the issue with those long dialogue moments, they aren’t a reward after a lot of great gameplay.
Minute of Islands is a pretty good game. It looks amazing and has a story that is well worth experiencing. You’ll be in for some basic gameplay that works well, but is basic. That plus trying to figure out what you can touch and what you can look at.
Released: June 2021
Platforms reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Studio Fizbin
Publisher: Studio Fizbin