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Indie-Gaming Review: Don’t Die, Minerva!

Don’t Die, Minerva is an RPG-shooter game that involves keeping your wits about you, whilst following an 11-year-old girl that’s set in a haunted house. Following an 11-year-old may seem a bit weird, I know but it’s all in good fun.

Having played a similar game to this previously, I sort of knew what I was in for! That game was Archero, and I played it on my iPhone and found that it was rather addicting. This is a 2D action game that can be played on iPhone and Android that follows a hero through different levels. In each level, you have to simply aim and shoot at the various things that come at you. For instance, this could be a massive spider, that when you eventually kill and then turns into lots of mini spiders. The levels deem themselves increasingly difficult the higher you go (even though I struggled on the first two levels when starting). You can upgrade your weapons that can help kill your enemies with ease. 

So, coming from that into Don’t Die, Minerva, and having some experience that a short game was helpful. Yet, while there were similarities, there were also some key differences that stood out for me. This is a game fit for people that don’t necessarily enjoy RPG-Shooter games all that much, it’s not too intense. 

Background to Don’t Die, Minevra!

This game is brought to you by Xaviant (the developer and publisher) who are self-described an ‘independent game development studio based in Georgia that is dedicated to creating games filled with adventure, discovery and intrigue’. 

Being a smaller-scale development outfit, they are keen on making games with the budget they have, which means you aren’t going to see the powerhouse visuals of a AAA title, but graphics don’t make the game. FinalBoss always enjoy trying indie titles that step away from an over-reliance on top-brass aesthetics and focus on innovative methods of core gameplay, and this game was for sure one of those exciting, fresh games to play. 

It is also more than affordable at £10.29.

Beginning the Game

The game begins with Minerva running around a dark area, calling out for her parents as they seemed to have just run off and abandoned her. 

Should social services be called?

She discovers a grand set of gates set before a massive old house, and is then greeted by a ghostly apparition holding his head on a platter: Mr Butterworth. 

You can’t get any posher than that, can you? 

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Mr Butterworth tells us that we are in Shallow Grove, and that if we want his help to get away from this awful place, we must go through each door and look for ‘Essence Crystals’ for him.  He’ll be there to help us along the way through and says that we’ll come across a fountain that can teleport us to the outside of the mansion to upgrade.

Whilst only equipped with a flashlight, we embark on our journey. After these introductions, the aim of the game is to walk along with Minerva through this haunted house to try and look for her parents and escape. It begins with you calling an elevator, at which point you are gifted with a monkey plushie to keep you company. This can also be upgraded as you venture through the dark halls, to help kill monsters faster and become stronger! 

Upon entering the room when the elevator doors open, we’re greeted with many spectres who are out to kill us. The flashlight can be shone on these creatures to kill them and the monkey is there as a saviour. It attacks anyone that comes within the radius of the monkey. Be careful not to walk in front of the monkey whilst it is chucking bananas at the ghosts because it will hit you if you’re in the crossfire. I discovered that the hard way. 

Yes, I died. Multiple times.

Keep Quick on Your Feet!

Don’t Die, Minerva is a fun and animated game. 

I loved the look of the title as it was dark and shadowy. The audio design is also well worth noting. I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds in the game, from the footsteps and the sighs from Minerva to the shrieks of terror by the ghosts that we kill along the way; they were all rather comical. 

I also liked the fun added quirk of Minerva’s character. When you returned to the beginning (outside of the haunted house) and were idly standing there, Minerva would get bored with you. She’d sigh and huff as she waited; she’s quite a demanding young lady. 

The game is addictive as heck! Every time I go onto to play a ‘quick’ game, it lasts longer than I expect.

The game is designed to keep you coming for more every time you die. You die a lot, so the title makes perfect sense. You need to keep alive, if possible, so that you get to the next level of the mansion. You don’t get a lot of chances to update your health bar, as there aren’t a lot of love hearts and fountains that you come across. And you’ll need these hearts to maintain your health bar as the ghosts are vicious and come at you and it’s not until its too late that you realise you have three health points left. 

There are different modes of difficulty that you can play, however, so if you’re struggling, you can make it easier for yourself and save yourself the emotional torment from the constant death of Minerva. Don’t be afraid to click to the ‘easy’ option every now and again…

Fun Upgrades

Image result for don't die minerva upgrades

The upgrades on your equipment are fun: you have the necklace, boots, flashlight and stuffed animals. There are chests in each room and you can open them upon defeating all the ghost in the area. You can get lucky and receive rare or epic rubies and gems that help you level up your gear. The better they are, the quicker you are at defeating the ghastly ghosts. My favourite piece of gear to use in these battles was the ‘Legendary Bee’, as this does the most damage when you summon it. The animal flies through a ghost in one move and splatters them. However, you do have to keep summoning them whilst trying to shoot and run at the same time. There are pros and cons for most stuffed animals and upgrades. 

The fights were always fun and I felt that I had to be quick on my feet to survive. I didn’t feel bored with them at all because their shrieks of terror made it all the more hilarious during battle. 

Some Things to Keep in Mind

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You do die a lot in this game and start from the beginning every time. If you have upgraded your plushie and flashlight then it doesn’t matter as you start at level one on everything. Though you lose everything each time, you don’t lose the progress you have made in the house as it saves from the last room that you died in. You can go right back to unlocking the gifts from the chests to upgrade and level up once again. 

As mentioned, the fights are fun and cool, but I did find that I had to search for the ghosts; especially in the larger rooms that had bookcases and objects, they could hide behind. I couldn’t always hear them and because they follow you wherever you go, you’ll end up having a wild goose chase and then turn around and they’re there behind you. It was fun the first few times, but when it kept happening I got very frustrated as I was wondering though the previous rooms, making sure I explored every inch but then wondered why no more new doors were opening, thinking that I had got rid of all the ghouls. 

One major question that I have is, what do we do with the coins that we collect? I not only collected the ‘Essence Crystals’ but coins too. The Crystals have a purpose but not the coins. I was unable to do anything with them. I’m not sure if this is because of the version of the game that I was playing, it was a review copy.  Also, the game is still being improved as it was only released back in December 2019 – that’s not too long ago to be fair. 

Now thinking about it though, I think they could have benefited with releasing it during the spooky season in October for Halloween. I feel that a lot more players would have been drawn to this and give them something to play over Halloween whilst having a ‘spookathon’ or something. 

If you liked this article, please consider checking out more of our gaming coverage!

Demi Ché Foster
Demi Ché Foster
A fan of everything from Sims to Rick & Morty, Demi is a postgrad student who loves to watch movies and play games instead of doing her actual assignments. With a passion for writing, and a love for reading the latest pop-culture topics, she is your go-to boss for thoughts on current trends.

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