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Minabo: A walk through life review: a cute game with a huge root problem

Minabo: A walk through life review: a cute game with a huge root problem

Minabo: A walk through life is a social simulator which is far too repetitive and slow paced to be engaging for any decent length of time.

Minabo: A walk through life is - in theory - a very sweet game, but one that proves once and for all that a coating of cute turnip-coloured paint can’t make up for dull, repetitive gameplay riddled with pacing issues. If that was ever a question you had, anyway.

The social simulator title has a lovely concept, don’t get me wrong. Players raise their own sentient turnips from the instant they pop out of the ground to the moment that they finally kick the bucket, and influence their lives at every stage up to that point. Depending on your decisions, you can choose to raise solitary roots with no time for their fellow vegetable community, flirty turnips with multiple lovers, or family-oriented plants with loads of children.

Take a look at the trailer for Minabo: A walk through life right here.

Every turnip has three basic needs - intimacy, physical contact and belonging - each of which can be boosted by carrying out one of three simple actions with other turnips. There’s almost always a chance of failing these actions and in turn making both turnips’ need bars decrease, which is a problem considering that if their needs aren’t met, their life expectancy decreases. Given that you can only control your own turnip, it’s essentially your job to be the resident people (turnip?) pleaser and keep everyone alive for as long as possible. Or not - you can also let them die if you really want to.

There are 25 different mission levels to play through, and each gives you a number of life goals to aim for. These generally consist of making a set amount of friends or having a certain amount of children or relationships, although some are a bit more challenging and require your turnip to die at a certain age. Different missions introduce new mechanics, such as adopting radish pets, or on the slightly darker side of things, encountering instant death potions which force you to choose a turnip or pet to croak immediately.

However, while I acknowledge that a cosy game like this is meant to be played at a steady pace, Minabo’s pacing is agonisingly slow, and the actual variety of events that can happen during each turnip’s life is incredibly limited. A full, lengthy life can take around half an hour to complete, and even when you’ve achieved every life goal in order to complete a mission, the level keeps going until your poor root eventually dies. There’s no way to speed this up, either - the best you can do is mash the run button (which, may I add, needs to be actively mashed rather than held down) and hope that your death is swift, which, if you’ve been playing ‘well’ up to that point, it probably won’t be.

To make matters worse, you have to complete five missions before you unlock the main ‘free life’ mode (where anything can happen and you’re free to let your turnip lead whatever life you want), which is a real slog. I honestly struggled to find the motivation to keep going far enough to do so.

Although there are points in your turnip’s life which sort of allow you to shape its personality - for example, to be more confident or self conscious - these nuances don’t really have much bearing at all on the overall gameplay. In fact, after several hours of game time, I’m still not sure what determines these personality traits developing in the first place. At most, they simply seem to change the speed at which your turnips’ need bars decrease, which doesn’t help the game feel any more exciting, nor do any play-throughs really feel that different from each other because of them.

In spite of the fact that the adorable art-style (which looks like it was plucked straight out of a children’s book) is a treat on the eyes, and the accompanying music - although rather repetitive - is very pleasant, Minabo: A walk through life isn’t a game I find relaxing, but just rather boring. While other social simulator games like The Sims give players full control over their characters’ personalities and what they do with their lives, Minabo just sees every vegetable plod along at a painfully leisurely pace, achieving very little other than interacting with their brethren in the most basic ways and sprouting children from the ground. Despite being inoffensive for a short period of time, this isn’t the engaging new cosy game that you’ve been waiting for.

Pros: adorable art style, pleasant soundtrack, radish dogs should be a real thing

Cons: incredibly slow pacing, massive lack of in-game events and things to do, very repetitive.

For fans of: cosy games, vegetables

5/10: Average

Minabo: A walk through life releases for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, and Steam on 28 April. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: DevilishGames

Topics: Indie Games, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation, Steam