In a medium filled with constant updates of online shooters, open-world action-adventure and role-playing games, annual sporting events, and more, there can sometimes seem to be so few games that feel truly unique. Not only is it difficult for games to break out in new genres, but fresh encounters with emotions and game mechanics seem to be rare. However, 12 Minutes is exactly that type of title. While not perfect, 12 minutes is a unique experience, offering a narrative rarely seen in games. Through a sometimes frustrating but generally satisfying loop of literal play, the end result is a roller coaster of stories.
The 12-minute 60-second pitch is about an unnamed man trapped in an endless 12-minute loop who must escape by figuring out an incredibly tense mystery. What started as a sweet romantic evening with his unnamed wife quickly turned into a nightmare as a “police officer” came to the door and claimed his wife murdered her father eight years ago. Things quickly spiral from there, and the “time loop” resets if the husband/player dies, or when twelve minutes expire. It’s a mesmerizing idea for a game, and developer Luis Antonio pulls it all together so well that even Hideo Kojima praised the 12 minutes.
To figure out what’s going on, the player must make the most of each loop looking for clues and information. For example, talking to the wife and letting her know the player is in a time loop won’t help at all if the player hasn’t figured out a reason why they’re in a loop. Roaming around the apartment feels like a point-and-click adventure, though using an Xbox controller does feel more natural with a mouse. The puzzles themselves are more about discovery and understanding than what really defines a puzzle video game. Each room tells its own story and is important in some way, though the game is certainly tricky as players might want some 12-minute hints when they get stuck from time to time.
Some 12-minute tasks can be done using multiple tools or in a few different ways. However, there are other very specific missions that almost feel like a breakdown. Getting stuck in the same time loop over and over again can be very frustrating because an item is given to the wife too soon, or the husband has to look at the item before giving it to someone else. In general, 12 minutes can be very complicated at times. But the feeling of being trapped in a time loop is exactly how a husband might feel in the game, so perhaps developer Luis Antonio was trying to convey that sentiment.
One of the great things about 12 minutes is the way it handles time loop design. A set of missions in a time loop may take up the full twelve minutes, and the player may barely complete all of them within the time limit. But, on subsequent cycles, the husband remembers this and applies it to his questioning, reasoning, and so on. For example, very early on, a husband needs to prove to his wife that he is indeed in a time loop. This requires multiple steps to accomplish and is very complex. However, later in the loop, since the character now has new information at hand, the player can prove for a short time that they are in the loop. For any game that has a timer that resets the clock (like The Legend of Zelda : Majora’s Mask), time can almost be one of the enemies. Thanks to the overall smart loop design, it doesn’t feel overly unfair (unless players actually get stuck in a loop or two sometimes).
In addition to finding clues, the biggest element of the game is the dialogue. Players will use dialogue to gather information, and the more clues uncovered—whether it’s looking for things around the apartment or talking in various loops—the more new branches of dialogue will be revealed. The exchange between “12 Minutes”‘s star-studded cast is the main telling point of the story.
The voice acting for this puzzling story is very strong. James McAvoy is the lead in 12 Minutes, with Daisy Ridley playing a loving wife with a potentially tragic and twisted background. Meanwhile, Willem Dafoe is the face of dangerous cops. Each character plays their part well, and most of the lines hit home. Whether the husband is battling the insanity caught in an endless loop, the wife is lovingly offering the dessert she prepared for the sentimental evening, or the police are threatening and yelling, these shows usually suck the player straight into the action. in the story of human suffering. There are sometimes moments of bad moments, or a time loop element that pulls the player away after hearing the same line multiple times (sometimes it can be fast-forwarded), but overall the 12-minute element is strong and exciting in one This indie game sees three big-name actors.
In the end, the story is the most important part of the 12 minutes. The reason why the player will want to keep finding the answer, to go a little further in the next cycle, is to solve the mystery. The story of 12 Minutes is told through the world itself, but mostly through dialogue. And the 12-minute ending, spoiler-free, is worth getting stuck in a lot of time loops. While some eagle-eyed players may see signs that the final twist is coming, the finale packs a punch and has the potential to be talked about for years to come.
In a story-based game, the journey is very important, but the ending is often the most important part. 12 minutes allows for multiple endings, unlocking numerous achievements over the course of 12 minutes. However, regardless of the game’s several ending paths, the reality of this shocking story remains the same. Players simply choose how they want to react based on the information they now know.
12 minutes is a special game. The time loop game design is so eloquent that even minor hiccups can be frustrating. The voice actors do a great job of bringing together the tense narrative, and there’s always a sense that the next clue will unravel this unimaginable mystery. While the game’s visuals leave something to be desired, the art style and atmosphere more than make up for it. There’s an underlying eerie tone throughout the 12 minutes, even beyond the walls of the apartment and the horror in 720 seconds. That’s always true in the chilling 12-minute finale.
12 Minutes is out now on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Game Rant reviewed 12 minutes on the Neuron 4000D from Origin PC. Origin offers a wide variety of customizable PCs to suit any gamer’s needs. Read more about neurons here. MORE: 12-minute movie reference explanation