What do you remember most when playing through a JRPG? Do you recall the hours you spent level grinding, roaming through fields that all start to look alike or putting in the effort necessary to acquire special moves? Or do you instead focus on the moments where characters received notable development or something important happened. The Longest Five Minutes is of the opinion that the latter is what matters. This is a streamlined JRPG that parcels out experiences so all players deal with are the most important moments.
The Longest Five Minutes is a game that often feels like a hybrid between a turn-based RPG and visual novel. The primary action is taking place during a battle between Flash Back, his friends and the final boss. He has lost his memory right ahead of this final fight, and the entire five minute altercation has him experiencing different memories based on the choices you make during these segments. You then go through past segments out of order, each one taking around fifteen minutes or less, earning experience from each depending on what you did when re-experiencing that memory. It is how these are handled that matters.
Because you are earning experience for what you have done, rather than how much you have done, there is no need to draw things out. The Longest Five Minutes seems to value your time. The focus of each moment is to accomplish one major goal. Though, occasionally up to two minor tasks can be completed for extra experience. These can be repeated at any time, in case you want to speed through or see an alternate outcome. It is about touching these goalposts and moving on, something I appreciated. A submission to get an autograph from a singer might be a complicated fetch quest in another game involving multiple steps in different areas. In The Longest Five Minutes, it is as simple as visiting a soldier in a castle, walking outside to talk to the woman, grabbing a signboard from a vendor for free, then getting the signature. Since these notable NPCs all have exclamation points over their heads, there is no wasted time talking to other people. You see who matters, get things done and move the story along.
The main points of each of these The Longest Five Minutes moments all focus on what is important. Let’s go with the quest to get the super secret and legendary sword. This means exploring a snowy mountain with some of those icy floor areas. Instead of being complex areas where you need to work out how to glide along the surface and hit the right rocks to find a desired path, it is much easier. I was able to speed through each of these rooms without bothering with any sort of strategy, easily reaching the exit without any plotting. I was through the fluff of exploring quickly and experiencing that thrill of finding the heralded weapon. Which makes sense, because the lead up to acquiring an ultimate weapon in a game like Final Fantasy VII is not what I remember. I just remember finding an awesome megaphone in a locker for Cait Sith. I felt like The Longest Five Minutes recognized that and condensed the process so that is all I had to deal with.
This means the battles do not have much weight. Most fights in The Longest Five Minutes are extraordinarily easy. Even if you face a boss, it is usually not a problem. The characters always have suitable equipment, with more found in that memory’s dungeon and enough money to actually buy a few pieces if you feel like being prepared instead of relying on freebies. The only time any of these matchups slowed me down was when the game would freeze on me. In six points throughout the game on the Nintendo Switch, the game would lock up after the last enemy in a group was defeated. (I recommend saving rather frequently after reaching what you feel is the halfway point in any dungeon area.)
What matters in a RPG are the moments where something of value happens. A defining moment where you see the hero connects with one character above all others. Seeing how the party deals with the realization that they are on a quest that will impact the world and may cost them their lives. Acquiring a legendary weapon. Meeting up with friends far from home. Escaping a prison. Meeting a major henchman. The Longest Five Minutes gives us all of these important events and allows us to focus on them without having to deal with the hours of level grinding, weapon acquisition, terrain traversing and busywork that gets in the way as we make our way toward more enjoyable things.
The Longest Five Minutes will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita and PC on February 13, 2018 in North America and February 16, 2018 in Europe.