The Groundhog’s Day The concept feels like it has been taken to death at this point. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, it’s the usual plot device where a character relives the same day over and over again. It became quite common in the movies, but like any other narrative feature that became popular, it was done to death. At this point, it seems like every other movie has some kind of time loop, whether it’s a comedy or an action-adventure movie. However, Twelve minutes managed to take that idea and turn it into a great narrative that I can’t wait to dive deeper into.
I practiced with Twelve minutes, featured heavily during Microsoft’s E3 showcase this year, as part of this year’s Tribeca Festival. While my demo wasn’t terribly long (and plagued with problems purely due to Parsec having issues with my second monitor), it still managed to paint a solid picture of what players can expect from innovative indie games.
Twelve minutes is a top-down point-and-click title that asks players to experiment for a 12-minute period in which they appear to be stuck. The story of the game revolves around a husband and a wife and the mysteries surrounding both. You fill the shoes of an unknown man who discovers that a pregnancy ceremony for his wife is interrupted by a policeman. From there, the player is eliminated and restarted at night upon entering their apartment.
Of course, things don’t always go down the same way. Experimenting with each permutation of the night is key, and Twelve minutes want players to be creative, or even daring. For example, the main character ends up being restrained by a plastic tether and is left on the ground with no way to get out. That is, unless you take the knife off the stovetop, in which case you can cut the retainer. From there, you can confront the officer.
In my time with Twelve minutes, I found many other items that I no longer use, such as a cell phone in my coat pocket. I didn’t come across it in the end, and at this point, I can’t stop thinking about what I could do with it. I’m sure there are more opportunities and branching paths to explore, but I can only go through one of them in my play session.
Companion to the mystery of Twelve minutes is an atmosphere conducive to its admittedly loose point-and-click mechanism. The game makes a kind of scary prediction. Color seems to be just an accent, a constant storm raging outside with lightning streaming in through the only window in your character’s apartment.
Even the game’s top-down view gives it a claustrophobic feel. Your character and his wife look mostly uncomfortable in the sparsely furnished room, and I share that sentiment.
Matching the overall tone of the game is the game’s spectacular voice cast. You will only hear three different voices in all Twelve minutes, but they are very recognizable. The main character is voiced by James McAvoy, while Daisy Ridley plays his wife. Meanwhile, Willem Dafoe takes on the role of the villainous cop. It goes without saying that every line in this narrative-heavy game is delivered with cinematic quality. Twelve minutes It’s not just a time loop game, it’s more than what time loop movies or shows should aspire to be: Creative, inventive, and emotional.
Again, my time with Twelve minutes short (12 minutes long if you can believe it), but I was completely engrossed during the session. While the game’s main plot is stuck in a time loop that isn’t entirely creative, the game’s sole developer, Luis Antonio, has managed it in a creative way. After being introduced to these three completely unknown characters, I’m ready to unravel whatever mystery they’re attached to each time I go back in time.
Twelve minutes lands on Xbox One, Xbox One X/S, and PC on August 19. It will be available via Xbox Game Pass at launch.