Review: Minute of Islands (Nintendo Switch)

Minute of Islands is a 2D adventure/puzzle game developed by Studio Fizbin. Follow the story of protagonist Mo, as she fulfills her ominous duties to ensure the safety of her world and the people she cares about. From afar, Minute of Islands looked to me like it was going to be on the lighter side, story and gameplay wise. But after getting to know Mo and exploring a bit, I quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

Minute of Islands is definitely a story-driven game. As you play through, a very soothing narrator will tell you the story of the Islands and the four (very creepy-looking) giants that kind of “keep things going” (like guardians). Mo has the responsibility of maintaining these creatures. She fixes the little things to keep them up and running, while they take care of the bigger, more celestial problems. Of course, the day we meet Mo is the day all four of these giants decide to break down. Time to set sail and help Mo save the world!

When you arrive on any of the Islands, Mo will have to figure out where its main generator is, decipher what caused it to stop producing energy, and fix the problem, usually by completing a puzzle of some sort with her Omni staff. These puzzles are all pretty typical. You’ll be pushing blocks, hitting switches, the usual stuff; nothing very difficult. The Omni staff Mo carries around also helps guide the player in the direction they need to go for the next task, using a small arrow, kind of like a waypoint. This is very helpful in some of the bigger, more confusing areas.

One of the main things that attracted me to Minute of Islands was the awesome, hand-drawn graphics. It reminds me a lot of the cartoon Adventure Time, but darker. There are even a few areas in the game that might make the player feel uncomfortable, like the ones that include rotting animal corpses. Those were a little disturbing, but anyone who appreciates a good story will enjoy what the developers were trying to do here. The islands you visit and places you go are all really neat in terms of backgrounds and aesthetics. There is a lot going on and tons of little details. It’s one of the best aspect of this game. However, the places you explore, while detailed, really add to the obstacles you have to move around when playing. In short, sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the paths are, which makes the world hard to navigate.

Throughout the islands there are also many things you can interact with and observe. Pressing A near these places will trigger small quips of info or memories about Mo or the islands. These are not required to finish the game or anything, but they’re a nice touch for people who want to delve further into the story and it’s characters.

The downside when it comes to Minute of Islands is how slow the pace is. Like I said before, the game is very story driven, so I feel the focus was more on Mo and her life than the actual gameplay and how fun it could be. It starts to feel repetitive after the second island. The dialogue and themes change, but the movement and tasks are the same. Anyone looking for action or fast-paced, difficult puzzles should look elsewhere. Minute of Islands is an in-depth story about the sad, menial life of this little girl, Mo.

It’s very depressing when you get right down to it, but over the last couple years I’ve noticed that to be a pattern in a lot of these story-driven indie titles. There are a lot of games out there that look really innocent and cartoony, but turn out to be schizophrenic-esque adventures, through the eyes of a very depressed main character. It’s really great to have something relatable for people who have faced their own traumas in real life, but I also believe video games shouldn’t make you feel depressed or focus on the horrible things going on in reality. That’s personally why I play them… to escape for a while (and live vicariously).

However, we’re all different and for those of you who enjoy a good story (whether it be happy or sad), you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of Minute of Islands and all of the creepy, gory things it has to offer. So, if you’re craving a faced-paced, action-packed adventure, Minute of Islands is a game you might want to skip. But for those of you who want a more relaxing, narrative-based game, I highly recommend checking it out. (Minute of Islands is available now, on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99)

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