Twelve Minutes is a star-studded time-looping entry in point-and-click adventure games, but despite its Hollywood star power, it can’t help but miss the mark.

Credit: Annapurna Interactive on YouTube

Ever since Twelve Minutes appeared on a Kinda Funny Let’s Play all the way back in 2015, the premise of the game held my attention. I’ve always had an affinity for the concept of time loops in movies like Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, and Happy Death Day. I enjoy seeing the different ways that creative minds explore or solve time loop scenarios. On the other hand, I’ve never been a fan of the traditional adventure game genre. I assumed the game wouldn’t be able to keep my interest long enough for me to see it all the way through. I exceeded my own expectations and managed to beat the game, but my experience was definitely rocky from the start.

One of my biggest issues with Twelve Minutes is there isn’t a content warning on the game whatsoever. Just to inform the reader, this game includes violence and murder against a pregnant woman, police brutality, a 911 call involving suicide, and other sensitive topics. I think people should be aware of these content topics not just during this review, but before playing the game themselves. It rings egregious to me that this game doesn’t contain a content warning when the above topics, and more that I’ve left off for spoiler purposes, will be experienced by the player dozens of times unless they’re an adventure game savant.

The cop (Willem Dafoe) restraining and interrogating the wife (Daisy Ridley) and husband (James McAvoy) Credit: Twelve Minutes Official Website

Twelve Minutes is centered around a husband and wife, voiced by James McAvoy and Daisy Ridley. The couple is enjoying a pleasant evening in their apartment when they are suddenly interrupted by a cop played by Willem Dafoe. Things get out of hand resulting in James McAvoy’s character being beaten to death by the cop. The next thing he knows, he’s in the doorway of their apartment before those events ever transpire. From there he sets on a path to break free from this time loop, no matter the cost.

Where Twelve Minutes shines brightest is that I can’t think of a better introduction to traditional adventure games for players that are unfamiliar with the genre. The entire game takes place in a three-room apartment, and only implements a small handful of items that the player needs to manage in terms of puzzle-solving. Overall, the experience is reminiscent of an elaborate escape room and it was a welcome change from the larger-scoped adventure games I’ve attempted in the past. For the most part, the item interaction is straightforward and won’t leave players scratching their heads about what needs to be combined to find the desired effect. The ease of use around the gameplay mechanics of the game is a pleasant change of pace from the narrative elements of Twelve Minutes.

The husband sleeping in the couple’s bedroom. Credit: Twelve Minutes Official Website

Suffice to say that the game provides scarce hints or clues as to what the player will need to accomplish to further the overall narrative. While I normally wouldn’t have a problem with this in other games, Twelve Minutes makes you try and retry various solutions searching for the new thread that can be pulled. All the while the dialogue between the characters remains the same until new story elements are introduced. Meaning, until you find that new dialogue option or interaction, you’ll have to repeat or skip through all the dialogue again. In my experience, I spent about an hour and a half of the game experimenting with dialogue or decision paths that I had already seen trying desperately to find the next step the game wanted me to take. The most satisfying feeling I experienced during Twelve Minutes was being able to find the new conversation tree. I only wish that the game didn’t make me feel as trapped as the protagonist did along the way.

The visuals of Twelve Minutes were an aspect of the game that took me by surprise. Even though the art style is on the simplistic side, the use of lighting created scenes that didn’t fail to impress. Some examples of these scenes include the above image of light falling on the bed in their bedroom and a romanticly lit dancing sequence between the wife and husband in the main room. While Twelve Minutes can provide some moments that are pleasing to look at, it struggles to maintain moments worth listening to.

The most noticeable problem with the dialogue of the game isn’t with the cast themselves, but with audio bugs causing conversations to overlap, interrupt, and in some instances, loop awkward reaction-based voice lines. The resulting bits of audio would be funny if the content surrounding them wasn’t so dark. One of the biggest letdowns of Twelve Minutes is that the performances from the cast don’t live up to their potential. James McAvoy and Daisy Ridley disappear into the American accented roles of the husband and wife characters for better or worse. If they weren’t all over the marketing for Twelve Minutes, players would’ve been hard-pressed to discern their voices from the role unless they were paying attention to the credits.

The husband attempting to fight off the cop with a knife. Credit: Twelve Minutes Official Website

Without going into spoiler territory, Twelve Minutes has roughly seven alternate endings that the player can experience. Some of these endings are more narrative-heavy than the others and therefore cause the game’s credits to roll upon their completion. The issue with the endings of the game is that without looking into it there comes a point where players could assume that they’ve completed the story. There’s no indication that once you’ve gathered all the necessary information from conversations between the characters that you need to replay loops and use the husband’s knowledge to meet certain end game criteria.

In my time with Twelve Minutes, I was only able to experience five of the seven conclusions before the game deleted my progress. I’d recommend those wanting to experience all that this game has to offer, to lookup which endings will reset your progress. At first, I was put off by the idea of not being able to experience all of the endings. Looking back now at my experience with the game, I think it was a merciful call by the game to cut me off from my time with it.

Despite all the criticism I’ve laid at its feet, I enjoyed Twelve Minutes. I just didn’t love it like the cast and premise made me think that I would. There were too many things getting in the way of my enjoyment of the game, and not enough working in its favor for me to overlook those issues. I’d recommend those comfortable with the content covered to play Twelve Minutes for themselves but to set expectations accordingly.

2 Responses

  1. Presents: "Brother Why Am I Stuck In A Time Loop?" A 12 Minutes Spoilercast -

    […] Do you have the time? Oh, you appear to be stuck in a loop? Well, it’s a good thing you came to this VGU Spoilercast of Annapurna’s latest game, Luis Antonio’s ’12 Minutes’. Get the breakdown of the story and the thoughts from VGU staff members Graydon Webb, Emmett Watkins Jr., Josh Miller, and the man who reviewed it for VGU: Alex Kreps! Read the review here!  […]


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