Minimum

With so many powerhouse arena battle games and shooters available right now, it’s hard to imagine that a development team would take the risk to create a game like Minimum, but Human Head Games did. Thank god they took that chance.

Minimum is a self described third person shooter with RPG and RTS elements developed by Human Head Games and published by Atari.

By my account, it’s more of a combination of third person shooter, MOBA and crafting game all mashed up in an insanely fun multiplayer package.

There’s no story, or at least no noteworthy lore yet, but the game’s unique styling pushed my curiosity to a level I don’t often experience in games like this.

Not having significant back story isn’t something that goes against the experience in the case of Minimum, nor does it really leave anything to be desired, but it does speak to the high quality and uniquely simplistic look and feel.

Minimum is an apt title for this game, as many environments – although very polished and incredibly large in their scope – have simple color pallets and rugged shapes lacking much detail.

Just because it's not photo realistic, doesn't mean it's not beautiful.
Just because it’s not photo realistic, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

Using mostly simple shapes and colours, but combining them with complicated layouts, many of the maps have a quality that on the surface is easy to overlook, but once enthralled in a match – I couldn’t help but investigating every nook and cranny. It was like the maps were screaming to be looked at and enjoyed, and they never disappointed.

In an interesting turn from the surroundings, Minimum carries a slew of lighting and weapon effects that throw enough of a wrench into the rampant minimalism to balance the game’s visuals almost perfectly.

The explosions of color and sound after a kill never left me feeling empty, and gave the game a convenient and satisfying method of notifying me that my weapon was growing in strength with every kill.

SO PWETTY
SO PWETTY

Although there is a Team Deathmatch and Horde mode, the most satisfying game type to smash other players in was Titan mode.

Each team has a home base, Titans, and walls to protect their home base from the opponent’s aforementioned Titan. Players must kill creeps and harvest their resources to give their Titan a strength advantage over the other team’s massive robot.

It’s a simple premise used in many other similar games, but it’s done remarkably well in Minimum. The harvest period seems to be the perfect amount of time, with ingenious creep spawning areas that take advantage of map design to offer some of the most over-the-top fun I’ve had playing any recent game.

Titan battles are an epic sight to see, and the fighting that can crop up under their feet is even more intense. Explosions tearing apart players, rockets and sniper rounds zipping past my head, and a madman sprinting at me with two lightsabers engulfed in flames became some what of a comfort as I fell deeper and deeper into the comfort of Minimum’s superb combat.

Super-sumo moon-slam is super effective!
Super-sumo-star-spangled-slam is super effective!

Human Head Games also implemented a crafting system in the game, and with it continued the running theme of balancing and creatively making a playing environment that felt like a perfect fit with the overall style.

Throughout the game, players will find various types of resources by killing enemies, winning games, and performing well in battle. These resources can be used in-game to craft blueprint armor pieces that not only look totally kick-ass, but also carry various buffs – like higher jumps, stronger weapons, etc.

Weapons, turrets, and the like can also be crafted and upgraded in the menus via the schematic system, adding tons of depth to the killing tools available to players.

This also forces player agency in participating in harvesting creeps, taking out enemy structures, and overall participation with the team to try and reach victory.

Although there are plenty of free options for upgrades in armor and weapons, there are micro-transactions in Minimum. Now before the use of that maligned word turns you off from this game, I did notice any advantage or bonus unlocked by purchasing any of these items was on par with all the non-paid unlockables.

A weapon fit for The Terminator.
A weapon fit for The Terminator.

Something that is often overlooked on the surface but felt in the core of so many games that share similar styles to Minimum is balance.

I realize I’ve mentioned the word balance in many capacities so far in this review, however, overall game balance is not only compiled from each component, but is a flowing feature all its own.

The good news is, Minimum’s overall game balance is just as good as the sum of its separate parts would suggest it should be.

From team spawns to creep zones, I never felt especially overwhelmed or at a disadvantage, and even if the crap hit the fan hard, Human Head Games wisely added things like spawn ‘safe zones’ where newly spawned players could shoot out at spawn-camping enemies while standing all warm and cozy in a magic, bullet-proof box.

It’s clear that using player data and feedback from early access combined with some serious forethought and good design, Minimum managed to make the fight about as fair as it could be.

I've never felt so powerful in a purple dinosaur mask.
I’ve never felt so powerful in a purple dinosaur mask.

One could sway me to believe that Minimum even had a bit of twitch shooter flowing through it’s veins on top of everything else with the way that it plays.

Fast, tight, and accurate, the overall combat is probably the strongest feature present, even after all of the accolades I’ve given out in the paragraphs above.

Pacing is controlled masterfully, hit detection is always faithful, and firefights never disappointed, they just left me feeling nothing but hungry for more.

This game found its Goldilocks zone. Everything feels just right in Minimum, and put-together, each category and feature ads up to a truly fun experience that you’d be sorry to miss out on.

Minimum was reviewed on PC with a review code provided by Atari.

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