Review: The Longest Five Minutes

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Star­ting the game alrea­dy at the final boss is not exac­t­ly some­thing com­mon­place in JRPGs, but that’s exac­t­ly the pre­mi­se behind The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes. It’s a shame that the­re is not much else that’s actual­ly uni­que about the game asi­de from this gim­mick.

Ope­ning with the inven­tively named Flash Back fin­ding him­s­elf faced with the Demon King, the play­er is left just as con­fu­sed as the main cha­rac­ter. With no memo­ries of why he’s the­re or who the other peop­le in his par­ty are, Flash must use the next five minu­tes to figu­re out what is hap­pe­ning while also defea­ting the final boss of his for­got­ten adven­ture.

Game­play in The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes is split bet­ween two dif­fe­rent gen­res. The pre­sent time sec­tions against the Demon King are rep­re­sen­ted as a visu­al novel, with the occa­sio­nal choice allo­wing you to alter cer­tain sce­nes. Whenever Flash has to recall one of his memo­ries the game swit­ches to an old-school the­med JRPG, resemb­ling the ear­ly Dra­gon Quest games.

The pre­sent time VN sec­tions are the stron­gest part of the game. Flash actual­ly has a per­so­na­li­ty, unli­ke the RPG sec­tions whe­re he is mute the ent­i­re way through, and the­re is not­hing inter­rupt­ing the sto­ry. The wri­ting in The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes is pret­ty strong for the first few hours, with the game fea­turing some like­ab­le cha­rac­ters. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the sto­ry ends up being rather gene­ric over­all once you get used to the flash­back gim­mick. The­re are still some decent sce­nes here and the­re, but it’s clear most thought was put into the ope­ning sec­tions and the lat­ter part of the sto­ry was given less love.

Even igno­ring the some­what gene­ric sto­ry, the big­gest fai­ling of The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes is the RPG sec­tions. Game­play is very simi­lar to older JRPGs, with sim­plistic visu­als and turn-based batt­les. Each memo­ry that Flash recalls is usual­ly rather short, con­tai­ning a few goals that can be com­ple­ted for extra XP. Your cur­rent par­ty is gene­ral­ly set in stone, but later memo­ries can you a choice of an extra par­ty mem­ber.

Com­ple­ting memo­ries is an easy task, sin­ce it usual­ly only requi­res com­ple­ting a dun­ge­on or reaching a cer­tain area. Pro­gress is line­ar and most memo­ries only requi­re explo­ra­ti­on of an area or two. The world map is only real­ly the­re to tie memo­ries tog­e­ther, sin­ce the­re is no real bene­fit to explo­ring past are­as and the­re are no secrets to find.

This sim­pli­ci­ty extends to town, dun­ge­on, com­bat… basi­cal­ly the ent­i­re game. Buy­ing wea­pons and items is unne­cessa­ry, sin­ce the­se are chan­ged at the start of a memo­ry and bet­ter equip­ment is usual­ly easy to find in ches­ts. Level­ling is also fair­ly red­un­dant, sin­ce each memo­ry has its own level that it locks your par­ty to. Win­ning batt­les and bea­ting the afo­re­men­tio­ned goals will give XP towards “re-expe­ri­ence levels” that add to your base level, but enemies are so weak that levels are a non-issue eit­her.

This brings us to the big­gest issue the game has: What rea­son is the­re to fight enemies, or even to explo­re dun­ge­ons ful­ly. And asi­de from the occa­sio­nal extra objec­tive, the­re real­ly is no rea­son to spend more time than nee­ded figh­t­ing ran­dom batt­les or going down a dif­fe­rent path just to grab a trea­su­re chest. This leads to game­play con­sis­ting of using sim­ply using a skill/item to avo­id ene­my encoun­ters then boo­king it to the next sto­ry event.

The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes would have honest­ly been more enjoy­a­ble if the RPG sec­tions were just repla­ced with the visu­al novel style of the pre­sent day sec­tions. Having the memo­ries be hand­led pri­ma­ri­ly through dia­lo­gue and Flash’s thoughts ins­tead of bland explo­ra­ti­on and batt­les would have real­ly hel­ped flesh out the sto­ry more. That, and after traw­ling through coo­kie cut­ter dun­ge­ons we had a hard time even caring about the game’s world any more.

At least The Lon­gest Five Minu­tes‘ visu­als and sound­track are hand­led well. The spri­te art is crisp and emu­la­tes the style of old JRPGs well wit­hout loo­king too gene­ric. Cha­rac­ter art and mons­ter designs are a defi­ni­te high­light, the amount of detail and per­so­na­li­ty they mana­ged to put into such small cha­rac­ter spri­tes is impres­si­ve. The various batt­le and dun­ge­on the­mes also came as a sur­pri­se, making trud­ging through ano­t­her line­ar area just a litt­le bit more beara­ble.


At the end of the day, can we recom­mend The Lon­gest 5 Minu­tes? No, not real­ly, espe­ci­al­ly con­si­de­ring the game’s pri­ce in the UK and Euro­pe. Tho­se loo­king for an old-school style JRPG alrea­dy have many bet­ter opti­ons, and the Half Minu­te Hero series does a much bet­ter job at par­o­dy­ing the gen­re. That said, a second attempt at the game’s con­cept with eit­her bet­ter game­play or even a dif­fe­rent gen­re ent­i­re­ly would pique our inte­rest.

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