This Is Not A Minimalist Game

Posted: 16 August 2013
Category: Reviews Comments View Comments


There is a kingdom (or a minimalist something, anyway) in This Is Not A Minimalist Game that needs rescuing (although "reviving" might be a better word) and it's up to you to accept the quest and solve the puzzles in this short, fun adventure game.

This Is Not A Minimalist Game - Title ScreenThis Is Not A Minimalist Game placed 18th in the Overall category (out of 1609 entries) of the April 2013 48-hour Ludum Dare competition. Ludum Dare, which I've mentioned previously in a game review, is a game-development contest that runs over a weekend four times a year in which participants have to plan, develop, and complete a game in that timeframe based on the theme that is announced as the event begins. In this case the theme was Minimalism. For the 48-hour competition (the Compo) entrants have to work solo (the 72-hour competition (the Jam) allows teams to enter and has a few more relaxed rules) so it's a tough race with very little time for the competitors to accomplish their goals.

This Is Not A Minimalist Game is a short fantasy adventure game with some puzzle-solving moments, a little bit of philosophy, and a good sense of humour. You begin as a stereotype pixel-art hero character in what looks like a typical platform adventure but the story soon takes a turn for the minimalist and then much of the game is spent figuring out what has happened and what you need to do.

It's so charming and fun (and occasionally a little brutal) that I've purposely not included any screenshots that show you what begins to happen when you're on your quest as I don't want to spoil the surprises but the game does toy with the concept of perception and reality, which is well done for something that was put together in a weekend as the points worth pondering linger long after you're finished the game.

The entire game is played with the keyboard, like a true old-school pixel-art adventure, and the music plays very gently - or sometimes is quite minimalist and interpretive - in the background, softly adjusting to the emotional tone of what is going on in the story, but it's so subdued, and I was so focussed on playing the game the first time around, that I didn't even notice the music and had to play a second time to check if there even was any. (Once I paid attention, however, I really appreciated its quality and the subconscious effect it has on the tone of the gameplay.) In contrast the sound effects are much more noticeable, though not intrusive, and have a pleasant arcade quality about them.

The graphics are very clever and suit the game perfectly. They adjust as you solve puzzles and interact with the environments and, at an important moment in the game, parallax scrolling is introduced to give a subtle extra sense of movement to the two-dimensional representation that just looks lovely. The font choice also adds to the game's retro feel.

This Is Not A Minimalist Game

The storyline and gameplay are well thought out and the only stumbling blocks become figuring out the puzzles. To aid you in your quest you are given a map that allows you to travel to any of the locations that you have unlocked so you can't become trapped in a spot with no way to go anywhere else. I also never reached a point where I was stuck permanently in the story as all the objects that you need to complete various tasks re-spawn so if you use them incorrectly you can just go back and pick up more to try again.

If you do get stuck, however, there is a walkthrough, which I did have to refer to at one point as I missed something that turned out to be a simple interface issue that I had misunderstood (the map and your objects appear on the top left of the screen and can be accessed with the number keys, as indicated, but this is never explained in the game).

Because This Is Not A Minimalist Game is a very basic game in terms of the interface and controls you can't save so wait until you have a bit of time to play through the story in one sitting before you give it a bash. On the whole it isn't difficult and you should be able to finish in under half an hour. It's a wonderful reminder, however, of what one person can achieve, given the time and the motivation. I really enjoyed playing it and just wish that it was longer.

Tags: #games

Play Online Play Online: This Is Not A Minimalist Game
StormAlligator Indie Game Studio: Opinion
Rating: 7/10
Play Time: Half an hour or less
Learning Curve: Easy
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Replayability: 3/10

Key Facts: This Is Not A Minimalist Game
Price: Free
Published: 29 April 2013
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: adventure, minimalist, pixel, puzzle
Resolution: 800x600
Requirements: Internet connection, Adobe Flash Player, web browser, keyboard

On The Internet
StormAlligator Indie Game Studio:
Official Site | Kongregate Profile | Facebook | Twitter

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