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Steam Game Festival: The Minute of Islands demo is a creepy, slithery delight

The mould gods.

A quick glance at Minute of Islands and I wanted in. Here were blue skies and bright sou'westers, a story book adventure about a girl and a boat and an archipelago of some sort.

When I played the demo, though, which is available as part of the Steam Game Festival, I realised that Minute of Islands is actually rather different. Look again: this isn't a children's book style. It's the thin lines and eager rot of 1980s underground comics.

That sou'wester is Hazmat yellow, and this adventure doesn't start on the open wave but deep underground, in biomechanical corridors and ear canal spaces where machinery has gone wrong and the air is poisoned.

Minute of Islands teaser trailerWatch on YouTube

Fixing the air is the focus of this fascinating, disquieting demo, and it does quickly take us above ground. But above ground is where whales are rotting on beaches and sharks are strung up and gutted. The art style is perfect for moss and mould and spores in the air.

The mission to turn on three air purifiers is classic adventure game three-trials stuff, but there is more here - an unusual mood, an unwillingness to settle.

I don't want to spoil much more, except to say the Minute of Islands is a neat blend of exploration, traversal and puzzle solving. Traversal is just the right side of intricate and you spend a lot of time opening up secondary short cuts in a manner that inevitably calls to mind Dark Souls.

Puzzle solving often comes down to a handy gadget you've got that can power up machinery and direct bolts of energy, and which even points the direction to the next objective if you're lost.

Minute of Islands may make for a strange story book, but deep down it is very eager to tell a story anyway. A narrator pops in during quiet moments, and there are plenty of questions raised over the length of this generous slice of the game. Now I know what Minute of Islands is, I am still very interested in seeing more of it.

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