Living the life of a turnip is no easy task, especially when you get to experience all the stages, starting from a cute sprout and ending in inevitable death. Minabo: A Walk Through Life is a game with clear artistic ambitions, a look at our own selves through the eyes of a vegetable, and one that will make you think, ponder, muse over your life choices, while trying to make the best out of your turnip life.
The Meaning of Life for a Turnip
Replace the turnips by humans and you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference in how Minabo unfolds. It’s a game of family, relationships, hardships, of being socially close or awkward, having partners and kids, and growing old surrounded by friends and family, or dying alone. A people management sim at its core, it comes with a huge heart and the ability to trigger various emotions within you, some of them not entirely pleasant, but more on that later.
Playing Minabo is a simple matter of pressing one key to walk horizontally, and using the mouse to interact with the characters and objects that show up. The big issue here is that it can be difficult to pick one character when several are around, resulting in wrong clicks and unwanted actions.
Starting as a baby turnip, you must keep a watchful eye on your three needs, which are physical contact, intimacy, and belonging. As you move and grow older, needs are a constant part of your life, acting an additional failure state on top of your life expectancy. Other characters also have the same needs, and you can become friends with them, go for the unfriendly route – which affects your needs in case you’re in the vicinity of said turnip – or even become partners and have kids. Thus, the cycle of life begins again, now with you as the parent.
In the meantime, there are mission goals to accomplish, from making friends to having kids, pets, getting a hat via a rock, paper, scissors game, and so on. Die without fulfilling these goals and you are doomed to start all over. Occasionally, you may find some items with various effects, from extending a character’s life expectancy – or yours – among others. Romancing someone is a simple matter of courting for a while and then walking hand in hand until a meter fills. Same as having a pet, only with a leash instead of holding hands. Complete the first few missions and you will unlock the free life mode.
There’s quite a bit of micromanagement to do with your character and the ones around, from children to parents, siblings, best friends, and so on. It can get monotonous when the wonderful first impressions wear out, and while it’s lovely to see your little turnips take their first steps, adverse emotions are part of the journey and may hit you harder than you were expecting. This is not a negative per se, but be warned that going through the loss of a character you have grown attached to, or a faithful dog or cat companion is something that could trigger some substantial memories and emotions.
But that is part of Minabo, and if it has those effects on you, it’s further proof that it is achieving its purpose. Through some boredom and extra micromanagement, emotions will rise and make you think.
Seasons Come and Go
In visual terms, Minabo is beautiful. It has charm, charisma, and stunning hand-painted graphics. Seasons go by in the blink of an eye, winter snow gives place to the beautiful greens of spring, trees lose their leaves in the autumn… It’s poetic and moves at a pace that is as fast as you want to walk to the right, the equivalent of the end of the road for us, humans. The music is joyful as can be from beginning to end, but it does become tired and overstays its welcome, as each run can take several minutes.
Minabo: A Walk Through Life is a very niche game and one that goes directly into the drawer labeled games as art. It’s a management sim of sorts, almost a simplified The Sims but vegetables, with a strong emotional focus that works both for good and for bad. As a game, it’s somewhat barebones, but as an experience, it’s a great achievement and deserves to be enjoyed by anyone looking for unconventional journeys filled with meaning.
- Great hand-painted artwork
- A game about life, emotions, and the bonds we make
- Simple gameplay
- Difficult to select a character when many are overlapping
- Quickly becomes repetitive
- Music gets tiring