12 Minutes ticks every box as it unravels a complex yet enticing narrative around a young couple stuck in a never-ending time loop.
When you hear that actors Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe are going to be in a game, you assume that this will be something very special indeed. Of course, only playing it will help to cement this notion and even though I only had a short time with Game Designer Luis Antonio’s latest endeavour into the psych-thriller adventure, I can certainly say that it whetted my appetite for a lot more.
12 Minutes centres around a young couple voiced by Daisy Ridley and James McAvoy who find themselves stuck in a claustrophobic time loop whilst living out their lives in a small apartment. Their romantic evening comes to an abrupt end when an intruder steps into their world to turn it upside down.
Even though the inner workings of the game remain consistent in that its core system is based on 12-minute loops playing the same sequence over again inside a one-bedroom condo, the outcome needs to change or the player finds themselves in a horrific never-ending groundhog day.
My demo began at the very beginning of the game as I found myself standing in the middle of a hallway with a birds-eye view of everything below. Apparently, I didn’t have my keys with me so after sniffing around for a little bit, I found a spare set and proceeded into my cosy flat.
What stood out for me straight away was how much work and clever thinking went into making this quaint apartment feel safe and tranquil, luring players into a false sense of security. The low hum of a train passing by the rain-soaked windows and the gentle flicker of the candles as the couple was preparing for dinner added to the atmospheric delight that coated 12 Minutes.
I was able to move around the tiny condo with ease, clicking where I wanted to walk to and what I wanted to interact with. Items can be picked up and placed into your inventory for use with your surrounding environment and maybe that knife you spotted earlier could prove useful at a later stage?
For those who love the work of Stanley Kubrick, 12 Minutes will nestle within the memories of his gloomy visual aesthetic and then some.
A knock on the door quickly changes everything when a strange man, voiced by Willem Dafoe, breaks in and takes your life. This then resets the game but instead of playing blindly as before, your character retains his memory of what just happened although your wife remains clueless and sceptical of what has just happened, not believing a word of what you’re telling her.
With this in mind as a player, you instantly become aware of the ticking clock as you try in earnest to get your wife to believe you by remembering things before they happen like a song on the radio at the exact moment. But like before, the same knock comes again and again until you find a way out of this heart-pounding time loop.
For those who love the work of Stanley Kubrick, 12 Minutes will nestle within the memories of his gloomy visual aesthetic and then some. As an adventure game hinging on the coattails of a psych-thriller, 12 Minutes proves that simplicity in game design can really work. Never wanting to overburden the player but rather allowing you to find and make progress in your own time.
It’s entirely up to the player to decide what’s useless and what isn’t, learning from mistakes and figuring out how to deal with each time loop more successfully than the last. I particularly enjoyed that even the smallest detail or item that could be overlooked, can play a major part in how the player can develop into the game further.
I’m very excited to delve more into 12 Minutes when it releases in August and I think players who enjoy games like Return of the Obra Dinn and Disco Elysium, will find hours of enjoyment in this intriguing indie title published by Annapurna Interactive.
12 Minutes will launch on August 19, and it will be available on Xbox Game Pass from day one as well as on PC via Steam.