I love shooters. My first venture into online gaming was Quake and Unreal Tournament and I loved every minute of it. The genre has evolved a lot over the years by adding qualities like customization and multiple game modes, but the core gameplay has remained due to the long-lasting fun it brings. MOBA games like League of Legends really capitalize on character and item customization so it feels natural to combine the two genres in the hopes of making a fun game. Minimum is taking a step forward by mixing the MOBA genre with twitch shooters and at the same time taking a step back to a simpler art-style that really makes the game pop amidst a bevy of contenders. Minimum brings a few new twists to a classic genre with a unique art-style along with some powerful MOBA elements that expands gameplay to a new level.
The first thing you will notice with Minimum is the unique art-style or rather the lack thereof. All characters and items lack fundamental features that everyone has grown accustomed to over the years. Features like faces and curves in general are absent. This might seem jarring at first, but the core game play and great effects will make you realize that you don’t need facial expressions to communicate or even circles to fire rockets out of. The blocky nature of the game tricks you into thinking that everything is simplified and basic, but as soon as the round begins, you are quickly introduced to some impressive explosions and effects that shouldn’t belong in a simple block game. Weapons fire is gorgeous as it streaks through the air and energy swords slash with flashes and plasma effects that look great even if you are on the receiving end. Power-ups imbue you with more powerful attacks and special abilities that look as good as they improve your game. Speed boosts not only make you run faster but leave an energy trail to prove it. The blocky nature sparks the nostalgia of retro games while the particle and energy effects keep you grounded in a modern day shooter.
There are several loadouts available to start with, but you can soon create your own as you get a feel for the various weapons and devices at your disposal. Weapons have an alternate fire that is activated by the right click of the mouse. Battle rifles have burst fire, sniper rifles have zoom and shotguns have a jump that can get you out of some sticky situations or put you in them depending on your methods. The weapons also upgrade as you get kills and collect the enemy power-ups that they drop. Your battle rifle will gain damage and start firing with 3 barrels instead of one. The sniper rifle adds a freeze effect that slows down enemies so they can’t get away before you finish them off. The power-up portion is a great MOBA feature that is similar to kill streaks where it rewards your momentum but it will be removed once you get killed. Your character will start glowing as you take damage so you will need to move away from battle quickly as everyone will know that you are only a few hits away from going down. This sometimes caused confusion with my own teammates as they would start shooting at me since my glowing character really didn’t have a red or blue color anymore, but a bright yellow that draws everyone’s attention.
You can customize your character with various armor sets and weapon skins. As you play through the game, you will level up and earn materials that you can utilize to craft items and weapons. There are various types of weapons that include beam rifles, plasma launchers, shotguns along with melee weapons like swords and daggers. Crafting the look of your character will let everyone know who they are dealing with and the world of hurt they are about to experience. There are generic armor pieces that will boost certain stats, but reduce others. An armor piece might increase the damage you deal by 10%, but it will also increase the damage you take by 10%. There are devices as well such as grenades and mini-turrets that can be deployed and have their own customization options. A pay model is included to fast-track some of the unlockable gear, but is not required as leveling up and playing will unlock various items and earn materials for crafting.
Team Deathmatch is present for all your classic competitive needs and Horde Mode allows you to co-op with others to fight off waves of enemies. The main game mode that will draw the crowds is Titan Mode.
Titan Mode offers a unique mix of MOBA elements that add to the shooting fun. Not to mention that giant-freaking robots always make everything better. The maps are laid out with paths for the hulking Titans to march through. Your base has several turrets and giant walls that will spring up to block the path when a Titan approaches, but the Titan will knock down the wall after a few sharp hits with it gargantuan fists. There are creeps scampering around that will drop crystals once they are killed. When your team collects enough of these crystals your Titan is activated and it targets the enemy base for termination. It will ignore you and your team, but it was programmed with a strong distaste for enemy Titans and walls. Watching two Titans duke it out in classic rock ‘em sock ’em glory sparked my inner child to start cheering. The Titans become the champions of the battlefield that need to be supported so they can make their way to the enemy base. You can deal damage to the enemy Titan but it was built to take a beating so your team will need to pour on the fire. If both Titans are destroyed, the process starts over and the creeps become the focus again. Once the enemy Titan has been removed and all the walls blocking the way are destroyed, your Titan waltzes up to the enemy base and blows the house down.
Minimum is very fun with its blocky art-style and MOBA inspired elements. I did run across a few connection issues as the matchmaking seemed to take longer than usual and I lost connection in a few rounds. I would expect those issues to be corrected with more players and steady server support. The game play is energetic and sometimes frantic as the battles heat up. The maximum number of players is 10 which might seem low, but still works in the well-designed maps. Titans are epic as they stomp their way through the map and it feels triumphant when you are able to take one down with your team. Minimum is a great shooter that should block out some of your schedule.