Randomly generated? Tick. “Deep” stat driven loot system? Tick. Indie? Of course that’s a tick. That’s pretty much the big three ticked off for any rogue-lite game these days. Every indie seems to start off by creating a rogue-lite game, and so here we are with Don’t Die, Minerva!. An indie rogue-lite which promises randomly generated levels and a lot of loot for you to kit yourself out with. Would it be good though? Well, let us find out.
In Don’t Die, Minerva, you are dumped in a spooky old mansion, armed with a flashlight and a stuffed companion. You’re greeted by a headless skeleton butler, who seems impressed that you made it to his door alive, and he’s asked you to go through the mansion and bring him essence to unlock better abilities for her, so she can defeat all the nightmarish ghoulies. To do so, you have to essentially engage all the enemies by running around while avoiding their attacks and shining the light or bringing them into the range of your stuffed companion, who doubles as a turret. This gives the game quite a youthful appearance and appeal, which isn’t often the audience that this genre of games tends to go for, but it does work quite well. It’s quite easy to get used to and run around, so I can see that they’d probably be looking to appeal to a younger audience with this game.
Don’t Die, Minerva also has some top graphics. Every room in the mansion was unique and distinctive, with amazing looking enemies and a cutesy main character. Buttersworth, the butler, also looked impeccable, if a little creepy. I was most impressed with how the tone changes depending on where you are. While the mansion is inhabited by all sorts of horrible monsters, it always feels quite bubbly and light hearted… until you get to certain rooms. The underworld and various blood fountains are all extremely unsettling and extremely well made, making a quite fantastic game to look at.
Sadly, Don’t Die, Minerva has a few shocks in store, and I’m not talking about scary monsters or ghosts. It’s all early access so everything is subject to change, and I do hope for the developer they consider changing the combat system. It’s not that it’s rubbish, but… Well. It is. It is rubbish. It’s just not very enjoyable. You sort of just spin around avoiding slow moving orange baubles while shining a light on the various enemies that appear. It isn’t exactly tricky, even on the more challenging difficulties. You just kite your foes around the room while shining the light on them and that’s pretty much it. The hairiest it ever gets is if there are five or six ranged enemies in a room, and even then, the balls move slowly enough for you to easily dodge them.
A slightly more fixable issue is the music in the game. When you battle, you’re accompanied by some excellent music that gets you right into the thick of the battle. When you’re outside of battle, you get nothing. This isn’t such an issue as you’ll find enemies in each new room, so the level will always be filled with music – as long as you go the right way. If you’re unfortunate enough to need to backtrack through the manor – an entirely plausible occurrence that happened to me on numerous occasions – you’ll do so in silence. It felt similar to wandering into a room that hasn’t been painted yet. Sure, it functions as you would expect, but it isn’t finished and feels like it’s been made available too early.
The Final Word
Don’t Die Minerva looks nice and is mechanically is quite decent, but it does fall down on quite a few areas. It’s still early access, which gives me some hope that it may well improve, and it absolutely needs to. It’s not quite justifying its pricetag, and in all seriousness the developers do need to spend some time evaluating what makes a game fun. Developers can’t just polish a couple of features and declare job done. They must follow through to make it an actual game, which currently, I think Don’t Die, Minerva falls slightly short at being.