12 Minutes is the brand new point-and-click video game experience from innovative indie publisher Annapurna Interactive. It has received some stellar hype and we just had to give it a try – or rather a few.
Much of the publicity for 12 Minutes so far has centred around its A-list cast. And it isn’t hard to see why: James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe are pretty big draws in Hollywood, and it stands to reason that their debut performances in a video game will cause a bit of a stir.
But if I’m being honest, 12 Minutes has more than enough going for it in terms of originality, peculiar atmosphere, and narrative twists to stand on its own. Which isn’t to say that the cast don’t perform admirably, because they do.
12 Minutes is a point-and-click adventure that is highly unusual due to its claustrophobic focus. The entire game seemingly takes place in a small, minimalist apartment; which for one reason or another is stuck in a 12-minute time loop.
What this means in terms of gameplay is that you have 12 minutes to ‘solve’ the problem. If you don’t manage to do that, or if you perish during that time, you will return to the beginning of the loop. Although your character will retain his memories of how things went, which is vitally important.
What this means in terms of the narrative of 12 Minutes isn’t clear, but I’ll admit it’s a clever conceit that has me hooked. Even during your first attempt at escaping 12 Minutes’ loop, there are a ton of clues dropped regarding a number of mysteries.
Who is the man that claims to be a cop? What does he want with your wife’s pocket watch? What secret is your wife hiding? Why are you stuck in a time loop? And most importantly, why is your character desperately incapable of improving at knife fighting?
It all remains to be seen, as at the time of writing I have failed to escape 12 Minutes‘ temporal prison – despite learning a great deal of what doesn’t work. Hell, I even managed to murder the murderous intruder… not that it did me any good in the long run. It did feel nice to beat him at his own game though.
12 Minutes is currently available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers for free, and is most definitely worth checking out if you can through that avenue. If you don’t, however, then the launch price of $37.45 AUD might be a bit steep for what promises to be a relatively short gameplay experience.
That said, I can imagine that whipping 12 Minutes out in a social situation has the potential to be rather amusing. The look of bewilderment on your friend’s face as they are hogtied by a dastardly Willem Dafoe may well be worth the cost of purchase alone.
12 Minutes is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.