Developer Human Head Studios aptly named their latest third-person shooter Minimum for both its simplistic aesthetics and familiar gameplay, and although we live in a time where pixel-perfect graphics and involved storylines reign supreme, this PC title aims to prove that sometimes less is more.
With character models reminiscent of sketching dummies and the same old point-and-click mechanics we’ve all grown up with, Minimum heavily relies on an unfamiliar game mode and an engaging crafting system to draw players in.
Titan mode has teams escorting a giant to their enemies’ base. Along the way, you have to balance your time between fighting enemies, taking down the opposing titan, upgrading armor and farming titan resources called “creeps”. Now this is where the game turns into somewhat of a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) – not surprising considering how popular the genre has become. The part in a match where teams must farm these titan energy sources is commonly referred to as the “creep farming” phase and has players scrambling to blast away as many of these critters as possible. Human Head Studios have also taken a page out of the Harry Potter series and created a golden creep that spawns during each farming phase. This unique animal, while not winning you the game, does reward you with far more titan resources than the regular creep. The combination of frantic animals running about on the screen and the advantage that destroying them gives each team makes for quite an exhilarating experience that adds a unique layer to an otherwise simple game.
However, while creep farming does merit the game some uniqueness, it also gives way to some insanely one-sided matches. To explain creep farming further, the basic premise is the more creep resources – or “souls” as I have brutally come to call them – each team collects, the harder the titans are to take down. So, if team A collects 10 creep souls and Team Snicklefrits collects 34, Team Snicklefrits will have a beast of a titan on their side. This means that Team A will have to compensate by upgrading their armor and weapons. If they don’t, skill alone will determine very little as far as the victory goes. It’s not a huge deal, but it does get very aggravating to play on a team who thinks they’re playing death match mode and refuses to farm creeps. Players will also get shot and stabbed in the back quite a bit during the important creep phase as their attention is heavily divided. Needless to say, the creep phase makes for an exciting game aspect that can result in backstabbing, overpowered titans or overpowered players.
Players can upgrade their armor by collecting crystals from fallen foes, creeps and titans. The nice thing about Minimum armor is that there are multiple designs that benefit the player in different ways. An armor piece called “berserker leggings” gives the player a boost to dealing damage but also makes them susceptible to taking more damage. “Knight leggings” give the player a buff to melee attacks.
The better players perform in matches, the more resource points they receive, which can be used to buy blueprints to different armor pieces. This way, every player can play the game however they prefer and will only receive the means to make that armor in each match by how well they perform. It’s a brilliant way to keep over-levelled players from destroying Minimum newcomers, as they will need to prove their skill in order to obtain what they have created. Despite this, players who have played longer will have an advantage, but nothing too overboard. Weapons will also have unlockable blueprints. This will have players coming back for days, unlocking their most cherished combination of goodies to create the ultimate loadout.
Titan mode and the unlockables are the driving force behind this game, and although it makes for a more-than-enjoyable experience, the rest of Minimum is just above passable. The game’s music is nothing to write home about but at least adds personality to the cubic worlds. The aesthetic gives off a subtle Lego vibe that some will love and others will hate. The whole blocky look is popular right now, so it has that going for it, but it can be difficult for games to make their own. Minimum lies somewhere between successful use of simple graphics and “been there, done that”.
Gameplay variety comes in the form of team deathmatch and a “wave mode” that pits players against firefighters and dinosaurs. While the modes are fun and let you enjoy them with friends, the true draw of Minimum comes from Titan mode. Everything else is the same version of almost every other shooter you’ve played before, except less unique. Lastly, I must say the themed maps offered in the game are pretty creative, but there needs to be more! This is one case where the developers took the game’s name too far.
Minimum will set you back $10 on Steam, which is more than fair considering the amount of fun you’ll be having. Just remember to invite some friends and don’t expect too much from anything except Titan mode. If you take the game for what it is, you’ll be smiling every second. It’s not bringing anything new to the table, but for $10 dollars, fun is all you’ll need.