12 Minutes is a Time-Bending Adventure That Will Test Your Brain

12 Minutes is a Time-Bending Adventure That Will Test Your Brain

Brittany Vincent

Time travel narratives are a well-trodden path for many forms of media: The Time Machine, Predestination, and even Avengers: Endgame looking to the trope for ways to move their individual stories along. But, as it turns out, it's for good reason – the idea that you can 'undo' undesirable events by simply rewinding the flow of time is an attractive one, to say the least.

With this premise in mind, Luis Antonio's uncomfortable and surreal 12 Minutes feels like an exercise in futility at first. But you're meant to feel that kind of tense, unyielding helplessness as you play through the same scenario time and time again in an effort to right a series of wrongs a married couple is experiencing. During your time with them, you learn two important things: one of them is going to die, and you can't stop it. Or can you?

The Annapurna Interactive-published adventure is a grim depiction of a supposed quiet evening at home with a young man and his wife. She's got a surprise for him, and as such, the two are planning a nice dinner together – then, there's a knock at the door. It's a policeman, or so he says. He barges inside, accusing the wife of killing her father. The husband intervenes, and it's soon lights out as both of them perish at the hands of the intruder. It all happens so quickly you’ve barely got any time to process it all.

And then, in the blink of an eye, everything's back to normal. Time seemingly rewinds, but the husband retains every memory of what just happened. Using the knowledge building up over time of what will eventually come to pass, you must piece together a foolproof plan to prevent his wife's death (and his) and get to the bottom of these outlandish accusations of murder.

The game opens with players taking on the role of the husband in the marriage, who can be controlled directly, whereas the wife cannot. As the two of you, nondescript male and female character models, mill about your house, a miniature story unfolds that you’re in charge of pushing forward through your conversation options and actions.

With that in mind, this game’s series of events can unfold in any number of ways. It’s meant to be played like a classic point-and-click adventure, with clickable 'hot spots' all around the tiny apartment space. It's somewhat claustrophobic as you sift through the various interactive areas throughout the home. If you find an item, it will be added to your inventory that you can access via the top of the screen via 'drawer'-like format.

You can drag items from said inventory to objects in the environment, or interact with items already placed there. For example, opening the fridge in these early moments could reveal a dessert in the fridge. You can place it on the table to get ready to enjoy it with your wife so she can deliver her important news. You might search through your shared dresser and find a present you might want to ask your wife about later.

But no matter what you do, if you don't figure out the right sequence of events, it's lights out – for at least one of you, by the end of the 12-minute play cycle. With your newfound knowledge, you can ensure the next loop is a much more successful one.

Even in the playable half-hour demo alone, it was abundantly clear that there were far more choices than the game was initially letting on. For instance, a kitchen knife on the counter that was incredibly easy to miss could potentially have been used in defence from the policeman. If you chose to do so, you could even stab your wife, in a gruesome and disturbing twist.

Eventually, you might decide to let your wife in on the secret to make things easier for the two of you, but that opens up a new can of worms: trying to convince her that you’re not only seeing the past and future, but reliving the same scene over and over like it’s Groundhog Day. The game appears to have accounted for all eventualities, and that’s part of what makes it so gripping.

There are several ways you can play through the loop as well, with multiple endings, according to Antonio himself. Some may be non-traditional conclusions, he stressed, which lead you to wonder what sort of optimal situation could possibly play out that didn't adhere to 'typical' endings – it's something to puzzle over, that's for sure. Is there a 'true' ending that’s canon? Is your wife actually a murderer? It’s something to consider.

12 Minutes is currently targeting a 2020 release on Xbox One and PC initially, with other potential platform releases in the future, but nothing concrete just yet. When it lands, prepare for some mind-bending decisions and a gripping narrative you won't soon forget – at least, judging from the small slice of demo gameplay available in these earlier stages.

  • aka Hitman 2.5D
  • Love the concept. I'll be following this one.
  • Love to see game devs try something new. Looking forward to it.
  • Might just be the description in the article, but, Outer Wilds.....in a flat?
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