By Marty Mulrooney
The Minims – A New Beginning for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is a point-and-click (point-and-touch?) adventure game created by beyondthosehills studio, a self-described ‘tiny indie development team based in Greece’. The work of a single developer, Andreas Diktyopoulos, an early version of the game appeared in 2013 as a benchmark test. The Minims – A New Beginning is an almost complete reboot with improved story, length, puzzles, graphics and sound. Players take control of Mii, a Minim who must embark on a journey of self-discovery to find his missing life partner, Mo.
Although The Minims – A New Beginning is currently only available for smaller mobile devices, the graphics immediately convey a sense of quality and – perhaps most important of all for a game about undertaking an epic journey – scale. Mii lives with Mo ‘on the top of the rock’, a towering pillar high above a desert wasteland. A furry yellow limbless creature with large protruding eyes, players must wake Mii to start his day by making a spider come down from his bedroom window… and blow a trumpet.
It’s quirky but it works, and the gameplay follows this same style throughout – you feel like you’re influencing the adventure and pushing Mii in the right direction rather than simply taking direct control. Coupled with the independent floating camera movement (Mii will bounce leisurely into view whenever something is interacted with), the gameplay is actually highly reminiscent of the pioneering interaction mechanics of Gabriel Knight 3 (created by legendary adventure game designer Jane Jensen), which have sadly not made many appearances in others adventure games since, yet are a perfect fit for interactive experiences about exploration and discovery such as this.
But it’s not just about discovery. Surprisingly for a game that initially seems – despite an abundance of charm – quirky and simple, the storyline becomes quite touching as it unfolds and deals with themes of identity, life choices and personal values. This is very much a journey of self-discovery for both Mii and the player. The opening puzzles offer a nice introduction to the world, with Mii changing his pond water using a rain cloud machine and making a cup of coffee for a talking bush – but it’s once he leaves his home and follows in Mo’s footsteps, a tiny figure travelling across a vast landscape, that his love hits home without requiring a single word.
That’s not to say there aren’t any words (shown via text in stylish thought and speech bubbles) or other characters to interact with, but they’re kept to a minimum and the game manages to say a lot without actually saying much at all. It’s a small, personal story that nonetheless features larger-than-life locations, a leisurely adventure with a minimalist interface and simple inventory puzzles that seldom feel nonsensical despite their wacky nature. The well-implemented hint system is there if you need it and everything moves forward at a gentle pace, helped along by the relaxing original music score composed by Maria Aloupi. It’s never anything less than delightful and charming, even when you’re milking a cow slug to make some cheese for a hamster-driven cable car…
The Minims – A New Beginning is an adventure full of charm and surprises. It isn’t a lengthy game, but at £2.29 it more than justifies its asking price and feels like a hidden gem amidst a sea of Flappy Bird clones and games bogged down by in-app purchases. In short (much like Mii) it’s a truly lovely and lovingly made experience that asks you to embark on a journey into the unknown and will leave you with a warm smile upon your face once the final destination is reached. What a lovely little first game from Andreas Diktyopoulos and beyondthosehills studio!
8 OUT OF 10