Taking the walking sim to a new, strategic level, Minbo – A walk through life is an oddly compelling experience. I play as a turnip, controlling its life from birth up until it draws its last breath. In between, my job is to live a fulfilling existence while my tuber protagonist walks ceaselessly through the world. I will die. But by forging bonds with my fellow turnips, I can lengthen my stroll.
Quest one tasks me with three vital objectives. First, I need to live to the ripe old age of forty. Second, when I die, I will have had to make at least three friends. Third, I must secure a romantic partner before stepping into the grave. Sounds easy enough.
My little turnip life starts at the sprouting stage and, just to endear me more to the adorable little vegetable, the game has me pick a name. That way, I can feel even more bereft when it inevitably shuffles off its mortal coil.
To ensure I live as long as possible by elongated my life expectancy meter, I have to constantly tend to my Need bars. These include things like physical contact, intimacy, and belonging. There are three corresponding actions I can take with those around me but I’m not guaranteed to succeed in performing any action. This is where the clever strategy part of the game reveals itself.
I waddle over to my turnip parents on uncertain feet to make first contact. Catching up to mama tuber first, I’m surprised my chance of a good interaction — represented by a circle partially filled with green — isn’t 100%. I wonder to myself how bad my life will go if my first attempt at a connection is rejected. Luckily, my mom lets me hug her leg with a smile.
I then realize, not only has my physical contact bar gone up, so too has hers. Anyone I reach out to along my path can join me for a stretch. But their happiness then becomes my responsibility as well. Meaning the more connections I make, the more I have to check between everyone, watching if they need more attention. Failure to take care of others’ needs results in their sudden demise. Growing our bond increases my familiarity, which leads to friends, best friends, and romantic partners.
Like in real life, however, it’s important to prioritize your needs to accomplish life’s goals. I lose friends along the way because I need to fill up on belonging but they need intimacy. I also watch my travel companions, like my parents, perish from simple old age when they reach the end of their life expectancy bar. It’s not a failure, just part of the experience, which is an unusually beautiful message to see in a game.
Also, as I’m walking through the exquisitely hand-drawn world I see the years literally zooming past. Characterized by a series of ink-sketched rocks, the Earth sleeps under a blanket of falling snow in the winter then wakes back up in the spring as clouds with animated faces pour with rain. It’s all a delight to take in.
My tottering turnip grows into a teenager in the blink of an eye. Then, before I know it, I speed past adulthood and enter my golden years. I leave the world happy, with a partner by my side and all three life-goals complete. However, my next mission expects me to have children, win a hat, and live past sixty. So, it’s safe to say there’s a lot more of Minbo – A walk through life left to experience.