If someone told me that they planned to make a video game involving nothing but lines and circles, my first reaction would be to flinch in terror from horrific flash backs of sitting in Geometry maths class and not having a clue what was going on. If someone said they were going to make that game but make it fun, I’d be intrigued. Minutes from Red Phantom Games should be called hours, because that’s how long you’re likely to spend on this abstract indie experience.
It’s hard to find a place to start really: unlike most of the games on the PSN store, Minutes has absolutely no narrative, no characters and no opening cut-scene to excite your curiosity. Instead, minutes introduces you to a circle, and from then on keeps you entertained just as well as any PSN title ever could. The aim of the game is simple: move your circle around the screen with your analogue stick and touch nothing but colourful circles and lines, dodging black beams and lines as they appear. As simple as that sounds (and is in the early parts of the game), the levels take a turn for the scarily hard when black lines are coming from all angles of the TV screen.
Skill and precision is the aim of the game here, and no matter how hard a level can get, you can always backtrack to collect stars to unlock a few different upgrades here and there. The interest in progressing to the next level is to see how the developers can use these simple shapes to keep the game interesting, and I can honestly say that each level is a different experience from the last. Although the appearance of the game may seem simple: the mechanics, difficulty and variation really have to be congratulated when you consider what the developers were working with here: just one circle and a few (make that a billion near the end of the game) lines.
Your circle can elongate and later on, minimise to fit in-between the cluster of moving shapes that float your way. Knowing when to change size of your circle is crucial when floating about the area you’re given, as each level awards players with a score and a few bonus achievements, such as taking no damage when completed. The unlockables change the way you play and help you go back through to perfect every stage and gain every star. You are given the ability to slow down time for example, and this gives you time to navigate through a perhaps pesky and crowded spot.
Anyone could guess what the trophies for this game are like when you see how tough it is to actually complete each stage 100%, but it’s the daily challenges that give you the most reward. You have 24 hours to complete a set challenge, but the catch is you only get one chance per day. You are then ranked on a global leaderboard as well as your friend list.
The nature of the game is so simple that absolutely anyone can pick it up and play and Minutes proves that simplicity is the way forward when having fun in a video game. Of course, that’s not to say your RPG epic or fast-paced shooter is bad for being intricate, but Minutes is a solid reminder to those who may have forgotten that the simple, can just be as fun as the complex. One might say however that the stoic backdrops of the sky, or sand dunes maybe boring to look at, but I believe the developers kept the background simple to help keep your attention on the craziness of the foreground, after all, this game is considered a ‘Bullet-Hell’ game and if you’ve had any experiences from those types, then you’ll know blinking is the wrong thing to do.
What you see is what you get with Minutes and for just over £5, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much time you can potentially spend on the game. The longevity of Minutes comes not from an expansive storyline, be it from trying to get the best score possible out of you and your friends, if not the world. As modern day gamers and most of all consumers, we’re possibly too distracted at looking at big-budget titles flashing up on every website and YouTube channel, that we sometimes overlook a diamond in the rough. The line-up for 2015 gaming wise is absolutely sweet and there’s no reason why Minutes can’t be a part of that list.