I’m not going to call this game a “roguelite.” I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. Sure, that’s what Don’t Die, Minerva! is, but the term just sticks in my craw like a craw-sticking craw-sticker. We’re going to call it a…die-a-lot. Yes, Don’t Die, Minerva! is the latest die-a-lot and you know what that genre name is ridiculous so we’ll just call it a roguelite, I guess.
Minerva’s lost in a mansion and her parents aren’t around! Also, the mansion’s haunted. These aren’t friendly ghosts, either, they want Minerva dead. Fortunately, she’s got a flashlight and a dodge roll, so she’s well-prepared to deal with these ghosts and survive. Spoiler: she’s not. The ghosts are going to kill the crap out of her, again and again. Don’t Die, Minerva! isn’t messing around, flooding the screen with nastiness in an attempt to take you out. Per the title of the game, Minerva’s goal is to not die, so that’s what we’re going to try to do. Sadly, that title is writing checks the game can’t cash.
Luigi’s Mansion 3, this ain’t. In true roguelite (die-a-lot?) style, you’re going to load up on upgrades and hope that you get some good ones, since otherwise you’ve got your flashlight, that roll and a prayer. Over time you’ll also unlock smaller, permanent stat boosts that can make a real difference as they accumulate. You’ll need them to deal with the periodic boss battles, which do an absolutely fantastic job of killing Minerva.
At least her death will be adorable! Don’t Die, Minerva! milks its cutesy-yet-spooky theming for all its worth. Sure, our heroine dies a bunch, but nothing in the game is especially violent or horrifying. It’s all very…Pixar, in a way, and that’s perfectly fine for the aesthetic the game is clearly aiming for.
You’ve probably played this kind of game before since they’ve been riding something of an indie game fad lately, but Don’t Die, Minerva! is charming enough to stand out. Once you’ve got the hang of dodging about and flashlighting everything in sight it’s a pretty good time that merits a run or two every now and again. These games are best enjoyed in small doses, so you can’t ask for much more. Just don’t expect Minerva not to die. She’s gonna.