Minimum is a TPS/MOBA hybrid game by Human Head, Atari and Cubed. It was recently released out of early access and I had a chance to give it a good week’s worth of play.
The main thing I felt during the game could be summarized by one word: frustration.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. Minimum is, as I said before, a TPS/MOBA hybrid thing that plays a lot like Awesomenauts but as a shooter. You go around, killing players and creeps, and using those kills to upgrade your weapon and armor. Every few minutes, both teams spawn this big titan who try to fight eachother. You can power up your titan by killing creeps, or you can try attacking the titan yourself. There’s a couple of walls that can stop the titan for a moment, yadda yadda yadda, we’ve all heard this before. So, what does Minimum do differently that DOTA2, Unreal and Counter Strike don’t do?
Well for one, and probably the most frustrating for me personally, is that the game doesn’t tell you much. The most glaring instance is your health, which is done in an ambiguous way similar to the eye-jam of Call of Duty. When you get hit, your character starts glowing, with more glow meaning your more hurt. The only problem is that there is very little to determine what is “max glow” that you can have. I’m in a firefight, then oh-damn I’m hurt. I’m going to go back and regen back to full when I get one-shotted by rifle shot from across the map. Or, I am chasing a guy who just won’t die. I shoot them until their glow nearly blinds me, but they just don’t fall. Also, I can never tell how much damage I am doing. I may just be spoiled by the damage numbers and dings in TF2, but damnit I want to know if I am actually hurting them!
Speaking of hurting, Minimum commits a truly heinous sin by having you grind for weapons. Now, let me be clear, I am NOT condemning the act of building yourself up in a match to be powerful, that’s pretty much what the MOBA genre is all about. I am condemning the practice of forcing players to grind for 50 hours just to craft a new weapon. This is not a damn free-to-play game, I bought it, so I should be able to use all the shit I want to use. If you make an argument that new players can’t handle all that information, it is sure a hell of a lot easier to deal with the number of weapons when you can use them, and not just be on the receiving end of these weird weapons.
The weapons are kind of bland, to be honest. You have the typical Machine gun/shotgun/sniper trifecta, each with weapons that claim to be different, but I can’t tell (and is another instance of the game hiding information). You also have katanas that can three hit an enemy and also apparently have different versions, but they all pretty much perform the same. The only really interesting weapon is the Plasma Launcher, which fires an explosive projectile that you can redirect with mouse2. It’s actually really satisfying to use, and it has a high enough skill-cap that you can get really damn good with it. From bending shots around corners to raining hellfire from above, it is certainly my favourite weapon. Just a shame I had to put 20 damn hours into the damn game to even get the chance to craft it.
One final thing that is frustrating is death. I’m not saying that the Titan’s wonky death-boxes are bad, or that I’m frustrated by katana users charging all the damn time. But, when you respawn, your weapon level resets. Except sometimes it doesn’t. But only for your primary weapon, and you won’t know how many levels you keep until you die. It’s weird to die with a level five gun, respawn with a level 1 gun, but see an ally respawn with a level 4 gun. I mean, I don’t get it. Of course, that is not to say that the game helps, in fact, the game provides conflicting information! In the tutorial, it tells you that weapons always reset. Then a loading screen tip informs you that locked levels don’t reset. I get the idea behind this, I just don’t get HOW it happens.
Actually, one last thing: the game always crashes when trying to close. They probably fixed that by now, but I just want to point out the game is still “unfinished,” with not even the website having correct information about the game. Apparently there are new modes coming out, and entire menu options and equipment types are greyed out, with an ominous “coming soon” touted everywhere. Isn’t that was Early Access was for, getting the features done? I can deal with that when the game is IN Early Access, but it left Early Access. It should be done.
All in all, Minimum is a grindy, simplistic, and incomplete TPS/MOBA with about one good gameplay quirk hidden behind a sea of frustrations. Come for the minimalistic art style (which I actually like), but leave because you still need 20 matches to craft a gun. I can’t recommend this game.