Let’s start off this review by clearing one thing up. The Longest Five Minutes takes considerably longer than 300 seconds to complete. I estimate that my playthrough, of this retro style RPG, lasted for around ten hours. That’s lengthier than the title suggests, but still shorter than your average JRPG. I’m not complaining though, because these days I just don’t have the time to finish a Witcher sized adventure. My long shifts are partially to blame and my age is a factor too. Once I hit my mid-thirties I lost the energy required to stay up all night playing games. Then again, my ex-girlfriends would argue that I never had much stamina for “night time activities” to begin with.
The Longest Five Minutes sees players assume the role of a hero named Flash Back. When the game begins Flash is in the midst of a five-minute tussle versus the tyrannical Demon King. How Flash got into this predicament is a mystery because he is suffering from amnesia (an ailment common amongst RPG heroes and anime characters alike.) In effect TLFM commences at the finale and gradually reveals how the story got to that point via memory fragments, which are essentially short levels chronicling Flash’s journey from his home village to the overlord’s castle. Joining him along for the ride are a bashful cleric, a Kung-Fu tomboy and a spoony mage who aspires to be a bard.
Gameplay wise The Longest Five Minutes feels like a 16-bit title, due to its turn based combat and pixel graphics. Ah, the 16-bit era. Those were the days! Final Fantasy was still fun, Sonic hadn’t lost his coolness and I could stay up past 10pm without feeling sleepy. What distinguishes TLFM from other RPGs is that the story is broken up into bite-sized chunks, which can be completed in a sitting. That’s great for busy folks, but may be less appealing for gamers who like to grind. Every stage is its own self-contained quest, were your party begin at an appropriate level and with suitable gear to best the challenge ahead. There’s no point in farming for gold/EXP because nothing carries over between stages.
My rating for The Longest Five Minutes is a three and a half out of five. It’s a game I would recommend to those seeking a casual JRPG experience. Perfect for anyone who needs a break from the constant game overs in Bloodborne (currently available to download off PSN for free.) The game doesn’t offer much, in the way of challenge, but I didn’t mind as the charming characters and exceptional soundtrack were enough to keep me invested. I dug the unique “reverse order” storytelling structure. The cut scenes are mostly humorous, as one would expect for an NIS America release, although it must be said that some of the endings on offer are surprisingly emotional.
Right now The Longest Five Minutes can be purchased on Vita, Switch and PC. I went with the Vita version, as the short levels make this RPG an ideal portable experience. Buyers who opt for the PC version can acquire the soundtrack, via DLC, which is a nice perk. Despite enjoying the game I think the £35 asking price is steep. The production values don’t justify that cost nor does the campaign’s length. Overall though, I enjoyed the game. The Longest Five Minutes looks like a game from my youth, but its streamline design makes it ideal to play on an adult’s busy schedule. Why does work consume so much time? The true “longest five minutes” is when I glance at my watch, counting down the end of my shift.