If you've ever played through an escape room, you'll be sure to have some fun with this interesting take on mystery adventure games.
In Twelve Minutes, you play as a man who comes home from a long day at work to find his wife planning a romantic evening. However, over the next 12 minutes, this romantic evening quickly takes a turn when a cop appears at the door, charges your wife with murder, and beats you to death. You awake inside your apartment while standing at the door only to hear your wife humming the same tune to herself with candles on the table and you're greeted with a hello kiss. Well, I guess time has reset so you must figure out what's happening and how to break out of the loop; hopefully, while keeping you and your wife alive and out of trouble.
You play Twelve Minutes from a top-down perspective and you click somewhere within the small apartment to move the main character or have him interact with something. The setting is very small as it takes place exclusively within the walls of a 1 bedroom home but it's also deceptively detailed because almost everything can be interacted with in order to influence the flow of time in your current loop.
For example, grabbing the knife from the counter before you're tied up may come in handy and there's definitely something interesting about the light switch that sparks when you turn it on. Plus, deciding the order of actions is just as important as deciding what actions to perform so experimentation is encouraged. Thankfully, Twelve Minutes does a great job of immersing you in the scene, especially when your wife reacts to something that might make you seem crazy given that she's not reliving the same 12 minutes as you are.
The voice actors in Twelve Minutes are well-known in the Hollywood scene and they flesh out the cast of characters with finesse. There are many branching paths of dialogue to get through if you have the patience to play it through to the credits so having accomplished actors delivering the lines was a great decision on the developers' part. Playing Twelve Minutes from a top-down perspective is a strange concept for an adventure game but it gives the feeling that you're playing a board game and figuring out a strategy.
I'm torn about whether I would have liked to see more variety in the scenery and possibly have the characters explore more locations or whether keeping the action all in one place helped maintain the high level of tension. When I felt stuck on what to do next to change the flow of events before time reset, I found myself performing the same actions over and over again which can get pretty dull after a while and having more scenery to explore might have helped break up the monotony in those moments. The same can be said for introducing more than a few main characters even if some of them only appeared down very specific storyline paths.
The story in Twelve Minutes takes many twists and turns that had me empathising with all 3 of the characters. There's also some red herrings sprinkled in where it was difficult to figure out if something was actually important to ending the time loop or not. The ending itself left a lot to be desired but it is nifty that the developer created multiple versions of the final scenes to be unlocked.
Twelve Minutes plays like an escape room on extra hard difficulty and with higher stakes. As an intriguing albeit small-scale thriller with many twists and turns that can sometimes be frustrating, ending the time loop is ultimately somewhat worth the effort.
- + Interesting time loop method of storytelling within a confined environment
- + Solid challenge to get to the end
- + Great voice acting
- - It becomes exceptionally frustrating when you can't figure out what to do next
- - Environment loses its appeal fast
- - Ending is quite disappointing