Game Off 2021: do;MIN(0)

“do;mIN(0)” by Antti Haavikko.

“Start with a deck of just few simple cards and proceed to use it to beat stages by placing the cards on the field so that the pips connect. After each beaten stage you can not only pick a new additional card to add to your deck but also one of the presented special code injections that affect how the game will play out.”

A small warning in advance: “do;MIN(0)” is enormously tempting to replay. I really do not know how many hours I have already invested in it, but it is just great! Thanks to its intuitive basic concept and simple drag-and-drop controls, getting started with this challenging puzzle game was also very easy. On a five-by-five board, you have to place cards that have up to nine pips on them. If at least one pip of two different cards are direct neighbors, they are connected to each other from now on. When you lay a new card, you receive points depending on the length of the connections thus created or even modified.

However, on some cards you will find star or bomb symbols instead of the normal pips. A star acts as a point multiplier, while a bomb leads to the destruction of the card if a connection with it is activated multiple times. Then there are very special cards that can really shake up the whole round! Rotate cards let their direct neighbors, to whom the arrows point, rotate in the indicated direction. Puller cards, on the other hand, also grab a card that is not directly adjacent to them, as long as they are in the direction of the arrow. Analogously, there are also the pusher cards. Why is this important? Because these special elements can activate not only the already mentioned connections again, but also themselves! For example, a rotate card can point to a puller card and rotate it ninety degrees, so that its effect is now performed one more time in the new arrow direction.

Screenshot of "do;MIN(0)"

More complex variants are possible, though. If you have worked so far in “do;MIN(0)” that you have unlocked certain upgrades, for example, puller and pusher cards can activate not only one card in each direction, but all of them. So if such an upgraded puller card points to a pusher card and vice versa, you have not only created a simple chain reaction, but actually a continuous loop that could theoretically lead to an infinite number of points – at least if developer Antti Haavikko was not so forward-thinking. Instead, he gives players a glimpse into his programming world, letting them choose one of at least two ‘upgrades’ after each successfully passed level that have a direct impact on the game’s mechanics. He calls them code injections and displays the respective section in a handy little image.

You can do a lot of things with them such as increase the number of cards in your hand, randomly turn a pip into a star after rotating it, make cards with no direct neighbors explode and much more. This results in a high number of different strategies for maximizing points, which I have rarely seen in a jam game. The gameplay of “do;MIN(0)” is so easy to learn and at the same time proves to be so surprisingly complex that I would even compare it to “Dicey Dungeons” – one of my absolute favorite video games ever – in this aspect. That alone should be reason enough for you to try it out for yourself. I wish you good luck and success! [PLAY]