Twelve Minutes Review – Time Waits for No One
Review copy provided by the publisher
Twelve Minutes is a twisted, thought-provoking adventure that will make you reevaluate how you spend your time when your life, and your wife’s, is on the line.
I think writer Leo Tolstoy said it best “
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” and in Annapurna Interactive’s time consuming top-down adventure, you will need to manage both with extreme care or risk losing everything without a moment to spare.
One of the many reasons I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this intriguing title was due to my love for Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock type movies, and this is exactly where the game’s creator, Luis Antonio, got their inspiration from when crafting the aesthetics of Twelve Minutes. There’s even a call-back to The Shining in the opening seconds as you walk to your apartment across the iconic carpet already giving you an idea of how this could play out.
During your time with Twelve Minutes, you and your wife are bound to your small apartment walls which already gives this complex yet compelling game a claustrophobic edge. The premise seems simple enough – you, the player, comes home to his wife, who has planned a special evening, but the occasion is ruined when a man enters and assaults you both. This is where the simplicity ends.
To make matters much worse, you are stuck in a 12-minute time-loop that sucks you into playing the same awful day over and over every time you die, leave the apartment or run out of time. But before all that, let me set the scene because you’re going to experience it many times. You enter the small living space and are greeted by your wife who excitedly tells you they have news to share over dessert. As you chat and enjoy your evening, a loud knock comes to the door that says they are the police. Even if you decide not to open the door, they will bash it down, arresting your wife for the murder of her father eight years ago and killing you in the process.
What really drew me into this game’s concept is that the three sole characters have no names so you really feel like you become the character you’re playing.
Thankfully, you can stop this from happening with your strange yet useful time-loop abilities but the question is, how?
What really drew me into this game’s concept is that the three sole characters have no names so you really feel like you become the character you’re playing. You feel the sheer panic of trying to prove to your wife that you’re experiencing the same day over, the notion that you could be living all these years with a murder and the frustration of finding a way out of this nightmare. Each time-loop encounter brings with it previous knowledge and also mistakes that just didn’t work before which is essential on moving forward.
The movement in Twelve Minutes resembles the old school point and click mechanics that also applies to items you find that could help around the apartment. Tucked neatly into the top area of the screen lies your inventory where you can also combine very useful objects and use them to find ways to further your progress. Each time you have to start over, you bring with you previous knowledge of your last loop, giving you valuable insight into your wife’s past – is she really who she says she is? – who exactly is this strange man who says he’s a cop and how to save lives.
I will say that after my maybe 20th time-loop, I was starting to get really frustrated. It felt like no matter what I tried, the questions I asked or doing a completely different tactic that included hiding in the closet and letting my wife deal with it or trying to overpower this so-called cop, I couldn’t get to the bottom of why this dangerous man was so hell-bent on destroying my family. In the end, I figured out that I needed to keep making mistakes and more importantly, learning from them.
Asking the right questions and gathering evidence was the key to this nightmare coming to an end and thus, finding out the truth on what really happened to my wife’s father and the cop’s connection to it. My main word of advice to players is to take each time-loop in stages, be patient and don’t try to do everything all at once. Allow things to play out and watch closely and then the next time, try something different to witness a possible alternative outcome.
I found myself constantly thinking about it when not playing and trying to come up with new ways and ideas that would allow me to finally get to the crux of what was happening and why.
It’s difficult to go into more of the story without giving so much away, but if you enjoy a complex Murder on the Orient Express thriller combined with stellar voice acting from the likes of Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe and James McAvoy, you certainly have a lot to sink your teeth into Twelve Minutes‘ 6-10 hours of gameplay.
All in all, I really enjoyed the tension Twelve Minutes implemented even with its sometimes wonky animation and frustrating elements. I found myself constantly thinking about it when not playing and trying to come up with new ways and ideas that would allow me to finally get to the crux of what was happening and why. It’s also well worth getting another mind in on the action to help guide the storyline along in angles you haven’t thought about which essentially turns it into a brilliant two-player game and a real talking point.