Developer Luis Antonio’s Twelve Minutes is a hard game to review. It is a game built almost solely around narrative that, if I were to talk too much about it, would be treading into huge spoiler territory. Quite honestly this approximately 6-7 hour adventure is meant to just be experienced (especially if you have Xbox Game Pass) knowing very little going in, though your enjoyment mileage may vary depending on how well you fair in point-and-click style adventure games.
Yes, Twelve Minutes is a lot more like the adventure game styles of old than I initially assumed going in, and it definitely takes cues from classic games like Day of the Tentacle and The Secret of Monkey Island, sometimes almost to a fault. The game centers around a couple, a man and woman (with you controlling the man) and takes place entirely in a small 1-bedroom apartment. The central goal is to unravel the mystery of this 12-minute loop and what exactly led to it occurring. Like in those classic titles, you’ll pick up and combine items in the apartment to further the story, with not one item being worthless.
At first, I was taken aback by the controls, as it is obvious that Twelve Minutes was designed with PC in mind. In order to move the husband you must click in the direction you want him to travel, as opposed to moving him with the analog stick, as well as on objects in the environment. I was initially disappointed with this kind of moveset, hoping that the game had been ported with a little more effort, but I eventually moved past it once the game started to pick up.
And pick up it does. In fact, almost immediately, as you are introduced to your wife, played by Daisy Ridley, and soon after Willem Dafoe who plays the Cop. Again, if I say even a little it could be construed as spoilers, but boy, does the narrative go places I wasn’t expecting. While I found the ending to be a little too convoluted and confusing, the journey to it hits with so many twists and satisfying “ah hah!” moments that you will be glued to the screen the entire time.
Well almost the entire time. As I mentioned above, your enjoyment of this game depends on how you feel about point-and-click adventure titles and I am unashamed to admit I got stuck occasionally on how to progress. You’d think everything would be laid out pretty bare in such a small space but I was still discovering nooks and crannies a few hours in to the game. To Luis Antonio and his team’s credit, my frustration at these impediments was from my own inadequacies, not those of the developers. The game makes big strides in leaving bread crumbs for you to follow, but you must be paying attention at all times, especially to dialogue.
Speaking of, the Hollywood A-List of talent do a solid job here with what they’re given, however there were times where I stumbled upon an awkward bit of dialogue either written or in execution, very seldom in both. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure if the Hollywood trio was needed, but they definitely do not detract from the proceedings, and as long as it attracts more eyes to this game then I’m all for it.
All told, Twelve Minutes is an intriguing plunge into a Groundhog Day-esque scenario that will leave you breathless and itching for another loop to find out just a few more clues towards stopping said loop. Go in with an open mind and some patience and you’ll find the adventure is worth it even if the ending may leave you a little cold.