Studio Fizbin has plenty of variety in its history. The developer has created games like the quirky and clever Say No! More, alongside the traditional point and click adventure of The Inner World. Now, Studio Fizbin has taken on the puzzle platformer genre with new game Minute of Islands.
In Minute of Islands the player is cast as the young engineer Mo, who lives on a small set of islands with her family. However, not all is well in the archipelago, as it is engulfed in toxic spores that destroy all life. They are only kept at bay by a group of mysterious titans who live underground, and it is Mo’s responsibility to keep the giants alive and keep the machines that ward off the spores running.
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The most striking element of Minute of Islands is its art style. The game is absolutely beautiful, with intricate world design that makes it appear as a 2D animation throughout, fluid movements and fantastic use of shadow to bring the world to life. It also helps Minute of Islands stand out from peers like Sea of Solitude – another sea-faring game in a world of collapse – thanks to its unique and evocative feel.
In Minute of Islands, appearances can be deceiving. Although the game starts somewhat quaint on the surface there is an immediate sense of unease, and the game steadily descends into darker imagery. A lot of the game’s technology has a tinge of biomechanical horror, and the islands are covered in rot, beached whales and rusted debris. It all ties together with the fungal spores, showcasing a civilization gone, while moments of hallucination add even more intense horror elements.
This sense of ripe decay and destruction helps compound the feeling that Mo is completing a cursed and maybe pointless mission. The player hops between the different islands, each one with a slightly different feel from wreckage to bizarre plant growth, trying to restart the mechanisms of the titans to make sure the spores are destroyed. However, each journey feels more arduous than the last, and the weight on Mo’s shoulders from the history of the islands and her own family grows with each step.
Minute of Islands feels gradually more oppressive, and in part this is thanks to the game’s excellent narration by Megan Gay. The narrator helps to get the player involved in the game’s bizarre world, growing their understanding via key plot events and collectible memories found on the islands. However, this narrator gets more aggressive as the game goes on, with a similar kind of friction to that found in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
All of this is propelled along through light puzzle platforming gameplay. Players will need to navigate maze-like levels, rebooting systems and connecting power sources, or escape from more cerebral hallucinations. There’s nothing particularly taxing to be found here, with only the occasional puzzle causing a head-scratch, and most of the puzzles feel quite similar as well.
Aside from the this repetition when it comes to puzzles, there are a couple of other issues with Minute of Islands to point out. The game does involve some dull backtracking, which makes it feel a little too long and compounds with the repetitive nature of its gameplay. Meanwhile, from a technical side there was a noticeable frame rate drop on some occasions, although this always passed quickly.
Aside from these problems, Minute of Islands is extremely impressive. Its breathtaking art style and animation are more than enough to keep players engaged, but its emotional core and thematic strength truly make it worth playing. Its gameplay may be a little limited, but this is easily outweighed by the overall package.
Minute of Islands is out now for PC and releases 15 June, 2021 for PS5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided with a PC download code for the purposes of this review.
4 out of 5 (Excellent)
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About The Author
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Rob Gordon is a writer and musician from Brighton, United Kingdom. A Creative Writing Masters graduate from the University of Exeter, Rob has his roots in fiction writing but also has extensive experience writing about video games and the video game industry. As well as this, Rob is at home with a focus on film and television, particularly when it comes to the realms of horror. Alongside his writing, Rob plays in two UK-based musical acts, the electro-pop band Palomino Club and rock band Titans & Kings, and also lends his vocal talents to the Big Boys Don’t Cry podcast, which reviews and discusses romantic comedies. The bands and the podcast can be found on all good digital distribution platforms, and Rob can also be found on Twitter.