Just one indie developer, a few minutes to escape from a mysterious time loop, and a cast of famous names. Yes, it might not sound or look very flashy at start, but Annapurna Interactive’s title has an innovative concept that you need to try out for yourself. Take note that Luis Antonio and literally no one else is the sole developer of 12 Minutes. The game is finally available only for the Microsoft ecosystem and today I want to tell you about it. Here is my 12 Minutes review on PC.
Even with the game following the classic lines of Point and Click, 12 Minutes is a very particular title. The entire story takes place in your protagonist’s apartment, which he shares with his wife. After a day of work, the couple prepares to spend a romantic evening. However, their plans change in an instant after the raid of a police officer. The agent, after breaking into their apartment, accuses her of the murder of her father.
After having immobilized her on the ground, he also decides to beat your alter-ego to death. Against all odds, the epilogue of the story is not the death of the protagonist, but the beginning of a time loop. Here you will find yourself trapped, reliving the story indefinitely. Will you be able to solve the mystery and live a normal life again.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING
As you can see from the title, the entire story takes place within twelve minutes. Take note that this is exactly the time that you have at your disposal to solve the mystery. As mentioned before, the formula of the game is that of the traditional Point and Click. An aerial camera that allows you to see and control each room of the apartment from above supports this formula pretty well.
When you want to move your character around the house, it will be necessary to collect key objects. This is crucial to progress in the story! You have to combine these key objects with each other, and use them to solve the puzzles that the game puts in front of you. There are two fundamental rules of Annapurna Interactive’s 12 Minutes.
The first is that in the event of death or loss of consciousness, the loop starts all over again. The second is that if you do not solve the mystery within twelve minutes, the loop will also start all over again. In this way, a game that traditionally would last a little over an hour, takes you on a journey bit by bit to uncover the truth behind the mystery.
TRIAL AND ERROR
The core strength of 12 Minutes is certainly the narrative, and more precisely, the dialogues that carry the story forward. Every detail to find and combine hides in the lines of dialogue that the characters exchange during the loop. Based on the choices made during the cycle, there will be repercussions on the timeline that will allow you to get details and information about the wife and the cop. Piece by piece, it will be possible to gradually investigate the facts behind the death of her father.
This will help you to understand who is lying and who is not, and finally arrive at the solution. Consequently, the gameplay is decidedly simple and repetitive, often resulting (with extreme ease) in trial-and-error. Most of the loops will prove inconclusive for the purposes of the story. Luis Antonio’s game will force you to replay the sequence dozens of times in vain to find the missing piece in the story. This is also because of the absence of an internal game save system.
FUNCTIONAL AND BEAUTIFUL
The strong cinematic imprint and the aesthetic chosen by Luis Antonio for his game really stood out for me when I just started playing. The game is, graphically and technically, simple, but functional and beautiful to look at. Thanks to the air chamber, it is possible to control every room with its relative objects without problems (or almost). Added to this is a simple but convincing graphic sector.
I must also give thanks to the delicate work of the lights and details of the environments. The short musical interventions that characterize the main theme frame everything perfectly, without ever being abusive or redundant. Returning to the cinematic setting of Annapurna Interactive’s title, it is clear from the end credits (simple but definitely spot on) what the developer’s goal is.
12 Minutes is a really well-orchestrated dystopian thriller, enhanced even more by the cast who voices the three characters. In fact, the voices behind your protagonist, his wife, and the police officer are by James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, respectively. An exceptional cast, therefore, which puts even more meat on an already substantial barbecue.
ARE THERE BUGS?
While the game turns out to be a little gem in the Game Pass’s crowded indie landscape, we are faced with a couple of underlying issues that keep it from getting full marks. The first consists of a good amount of bugs (minor, actually) that tarnish the gaming experience. It may happen that the lines of the development code replace some dialogues. Sometimes the wife gets stuck preventing you from continuing with the loop. This will force you to wait for the time to run out to start over.
The second, more serious, lies in the aforementioned trial-and-error component. In particular, in Annapurna Interactive’s 12 Minutes, there is a hidden key object which is not properly arranged on the screen. This will lead you to repeat the loops dozens and dozens of times without reaching the solution. Yes, I understand that the goal of the game is to get the player to build the story piece by piece. However, by repeating the same action over and over for hours, without a shred of a clue, is just insane.
Do you want to try Annapurna Interactive’s 12 Minutes? What do you think of my 12 Minutes review on PC? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more games? Check out our reviews for The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, Death’s Door, F1 2021, Castle Flipper, Miitopia, Hood: Outlaws & Legends, and Maid of Sker.