Trigger Warning: Tryphophobia & anxiety. Reader discretion is advised.
Minute of Islands opens with an incoming invasion of spores and the halting of strange machines. We meet Mo, a young engineer tasked to repair the air purifiers dotting the archipelago. She is also the bearer of the Omni Switch — a staff made with the technology of the island’s giants. Having bestowed their knowledge upon Mo, the giants entrust her to keep the island safe as they toil beneath its surface — powering the purifiers themselves.
As Mo soon finds out, they had all failed at the same time. She begins setting out to righting what went wrong. Her family are pretty much the only ones left upon this archipelago — the citizens had fled the spores storm, leaving behind their homes and memories. The art evokes a sense of serenity amidst a post-apocalyptic world. There’s the abandoned theme park that her uncle owned, and the chained gates of the crumbling lighthouse — where Mo has to pickpocket the key from its keeper.
Minute of Islands depicts Mo as the Chosen One — her demeanour and actions only further alienate her family from her. I felt my heart sink as she refused to talk to her sister, and her mind only drawing her further in. The spores are endemic to the archipelago, and its sinister qualities drove much of the plot.
Breathing in the spores did not result in a simple case of allergies, but like a parasite — it killed the person from the inside-out — first their minds, then their bodies. The masks littering the island served only a grim reminder of what once was, but throughout the game I never once saw Mo wear it. Travelling to each island by boat meant that she had to face the spores clouds that floated upon the open ocean.
This triggered an interesting dream sequence, and Mo’s awareness of her hallucinations made it a surreal sight as she knowingly traversed the world created in her head. She had escaped before, and she would do it again. As more islands are passed, and more people are ignored — Mo’s mind begins to turn on her.
Anxiety and self-loathing fill her — and as those of us with anxiety will understand — a sense of paranoia and imposter syndrome soon take over. By the time she arrives at Graba, the penultimate island — she is all but vocalising her distaste for her family’s supposed interference. Her grandmother sends her to neighbouring Memorfesti to lay the effigies of her dead friends in a crypt.
The islanders, we find out here — have a death tradition regarding the fungus itself. The air of the mausoleum is thick with the fungus’ spores, and the vibrant colours of each variety juxtapose a grim reality against it. By this time, I’d given up on how Mo had not worn a mask at all and simply let her do what she needed to.
Upon her return to her grandmother, the fungus had all but taken over her mind. She sails off to the final two islands — Ardi and Farjon — and the final dream sequence takes place. Her Omni Switch broken, Mo attempts to resurrect the purifier on Farjon. As the broken staff draws power into the machine, it comes to life. In a mass of moving limbs and eyes, Mo falls off the precipice and into the ocean below.
When she awakes, her companion (an adorable cat/axolotl hybrid) is waiting for her. She cries, and as she lays the broken Omni Switch upon the lone fungal colony — learns to let go. Seeing the colony merging with the staff and Mo leaving the island was all I really needed.
Minute of Islands is far from a perfect story, but the quiet conclusion — the islands giving themselves up to the fungus, and Mo letting go needing to save the archipelago is a moment of clarity.
Grab Minute of Islands on Steam and Nintendo Switch!