MOBAs are a dime a dozen nowadays. Everywhere you look another big time development studio is hopping on the bandwagon and hoping for a slice of that delicious MOBA pie. Unfortunately DotA 2 and League of Legends are gaming’s Augustus Gloop - they really don’t want to share. There’s not much wiggle room when it comes to getting into this market but Minimum arrives with a niche to call its own and a bargainlicious upfront price that could make it worth anyone’s time.
In essence Minimum is a third-person shooter MOBA, merging the dangerously addictive framework of a MOBA within chaotic shootouts, featuring giant robots and a deliciously minimalist art style. What’s not to love? Well, a little actually as it turns out, but we’ll get to that in a while. Minimum’s central construct is pitching two teams of five against one another in battle arenas, with the aim being to guide your team’s giant mechanoid beast to the opposing team’s base in order to destroy their power core.
So far, so MOBA, but Minimum has just enough about its fast-paced gunfights to set it apart from the rest of the crowd. A number of well-designed maps are at your disposal, but what it essentially boils down to is the same conceit. You’ll need to blow through the opposing team’s defensive walls, smite them down with inpunity, and blow up their core. Luckily how Minimum plays is generally quite fun, the frenetic pace and to-ing and fro-ing of the battles lends itself a nice rhythm that can certainly keep you hooked for a wee while.
Of course two teams both having sodding great mechs means one thing, and one thing only - A mech fight. Once the titans meet at the midway point they stand off against each other and knock seven shades of crap out of each other in prolonged and entrenched battles, steadily chipping away at each other’s health. The downside to this is that players never actually get to control the titans themselves themselves. On the face of it Minimum looks like you should be able to strap yourself into these hulking metal giants but that’s unfortunately not the case, you must just watch on in your robot suits.
Anyway, the gist of it is that once you and your opposing team’s Titan go six feet under, a temporary phase begins where AI-controlled creatures come which drop power-ups to recharge your fallen giant. The more your team manages to grab by massacring the AI creatures, the more powerful your Titan will be in the next clash and in turn the more ground it can gain. It’s a glorified game of tug of war that always leaves the opportunity for striking back with a few well organised takedowns.
In typical MOBA fashion though you can also upgrade your characters skills and equipment on the fly, leveling up throughout the battle and grabbing yourself new equipment to protect you, or boost your weapon damage, or even increase your movement speed with every kill. It’s pretty basic and in keeping with the aesthetics of Minimum, but it does give you a slight sense of empowerment from the beginning to the end of each battle. The upgrades are done on-the-fly and oftentimes accidentally in the heat of battle, while before the firefights you can choose unique customised loadouts and weapons, even stretching as far as katana swords for some hectic sword fighting.
Despite it being a highlight, Minimum is not limited to the Titan mode, but also has a pretty respectable Team Deathmatch mode which does exactly what it says in the tin, and a horde mode which puts you and a group of buddies up against an unending stream of cubic foes.
Oh, and about those minimalist visuals, Minimum looks so much easier on the eye than it has any right to. Developer Human Head Studios has stuck to this basic art style with practically plain flat textures, that still manages to look gorgeous at times. The art style also ties in nicely with the gameplay; there’s so much going on at any one time that it can be relief you’re not also getting overloaded with graphical detail, everything is laid out for you to see plain as day.
The simplistic art style of Minimal may not be to everyone's tastes but it successfully delivers a good mix of third-person shooting, first-person sniping, and up close and personal swordplay in a fun a personable way. It's basic style actually lends it a unique sort of charm, and if you're looking for something a little different to the norm when it comes to multiplayer shooters then you can do little wrong with this tidy, if a little basic, package. Minimum isn't without its faults though, and there's something a little haphazard and buggy about its gameplay. While it's generally fine there were one or two graphical glitches and flickering effects that detracted slightly, but it seems in the weeks since launch Minimum has already come a long way with regards to this and crashes to desktop - of which I didn't have any.