Twelve Minutes

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Luis Antonio
Release Date: Aug. 19, 2021


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XOne/PC Preview - 'Twelve Minutes'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 26, 2019 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Twelve Minutes is an interactive narrative that blends the dream-like tension of The Shining with the claustrophobia of Read Window and the fragmented structure of Memento.

One of the unexpectedly buzzy themes we saw at E3 2019 was the concept of time manipulation. You probably saw Bethesda's presentation of Deathloop, but there were several other smaller projects that allowed players to toy with time in a variety of ways: rewinding it using an interface akin to editing software, thinking about the length of time individual moves take while you're planning a balletic action sequence, or doing what 12 Minutes from Annapurna Interactive is doing: a thriller-style take on the classic Groundhog Day time loop.

As the name implies, you don't have a whole day to figure things out. You have exactly 12 minutes. Within that span of time when you first play it, you are in the shoes of a husband coming home to his wife for what he thinks will be a romantic, chill evening.

However, after some small talk, a police detective (or someone claiming to be one) knocks on your door, accuses your wife of murder, detains her, and then gives you a fatal beatdown. The time loop then resets, and the husband once again finds himself at the moment outside of his apartment, about to open the door and relive those 12 minutes — unless he finds a way to alter the outcome.

Since the husband is the only one who knows what's happening, he starts piecing together more facts, clues and overall knowledge every time he goes through the loop. The game is presented with a top-down camera view, where the husband can explore the apartment, fiddle around with items around his home and even try to explain what's going on to his wife. The first playthrough featured standard married-people dialogue options, but by about the third time, we actually had the ability to go all Jack Bauer with this man's poor wife and interrogate her about being an alleged murderer.

The more stuff you find out as the player, the more dialogue options and branching discussions you can have, and the more actions you can take. Eventually, players can start trying things, like picking up the kitchen knife ahead of time before the supposed cop knocks on the door. I don't suggest breaking free of your bonds right in front of the so-called police detective. That didn't work in the initial playthrough I witnessed. The small group of us there didn't figure it out in time — how could we, the game's not done yet — but there was a danger room-like thrill in trying to piece together a mystery in short amount of time.

E3 is always good for seeing things that aren't afraid to bend your mind in the occasional odd direction, and I admit, I can see 12 Minutes hooking more than a few people and sticking them in a loop of its own when it comes out in 2020.

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