Available on: Windows, Xbox One
Developer: Xaviant / Publisher: Xaviant
Release Date: Thursday, December 5th 2019
Price: 19.99 on Steam
My Price: Free for Review

Premise (provided by the publisher):
On a dark and stormy night, a little girl named Minerva discovers a haunted house deep in the woods and before she knows it, she’s in for the fight of her life! The forces of evil don’t stand a chance against 11-year-old Minerva and her trusty flashlight! Don’t Die, Minerva! is a rogue-lite action RPG set in a haunted house. Armed with a flashlight and a backpack full of friendly stuffed animals brought to life by the house’s magic, Minerva must explore the mansion and defeat its ghosts. As a rogue-lite, Don’t Die, Minerva! features challenging combat, permadeath, and procedurally generated levels. No two runs are the same, and death is always right around the corner.

By Kevin Lane

On my first play-through of Don’t Die Minerva!, I hadn’t studied the game-play or seen anything about this game. I was coming in fresh and coming in hot.  I realized quickly that I was a young girl, presumably named Minerva, and after a few quick encounters with some ghosts, I realized I could right click and scorch these baddies with my flashlight.  Maneuvering around to avoid their deathly balls of ghost ghoul wasn’t too hard to figure out either, and before I knew it I was rolling around, dodging and clearing rooms in this really cool looking mansion.

The graphics, while cartoony and simple, are rich and deep, giving the environment a really fulfilling feel.  The format reminded me of Legend of Zelda from NES, going from room to room (or area to area) clearing it before you could proceed to the next leg of the journey.  The monsters, while repetitive as you play longer, had variations that required different style of play. I liked how running through the goo of the remains of the dead ghosts left tracks that seemed to glow in the dark.  The dungeon levels, the dark rooms, all of the artwork helped make this feel like a very full and fun game.

And then the upgrades and props.  You can upgrade your flashlight and get buffs for your teddy bear and other toys tucked nicely away in your backpack.  Using the fountain at the proper time allows you to travel to the courtyard where you can spend your gems to enhance your items.  These enhancements come in real handy when trying to clear a room – and sometimes necessary.  My first death resulted in a swarm coming in hot and my failure to deploy my AOE Teddy in Time.  It wasn’t until I started anew that I realized the game was different every level – and that the maze I had already started to recognize was now different.

A lot of reviews either give games too much credit or expect the game to be the next best thing – but Don’t Die Minerva! Sits right there at the top of the list of $20.00 games. You really can’t go wrong with this one if you enjoy dungeon crawler / rogue style games that have steady action, require you to use your mind to find clues, and the desire to keep pushing forward even when it feels a bit mindless at times.  I give this one a “Buy” from me.

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