GAME REVIEW: Twelve Minutes

Developer: Luis Antonio Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Release Date: August 19, 2021 Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows 

Reviewed on: Xbox Game Pass through Cloud Gaming on the Backbone iPhone controller

Synopsis:

In Twelve Minutes, you play as an un-named protagonist just as he is arriving home from work. Over the course of the next twelve minutes, you have a perfectly normal evening at home: dessert with your wife, nice conversation, a welcome surprise—but the evening is interrupted by the arrival of a cop who claims your wife is responsible for the murder of her father and the night takes a turn. The cop handcuffs both of you, and when your wife doesn’t give him the information he wants, he strangles you to death. Then, you wake up at the beginning of the night and relive this twelve minute time loop over and over again as you unpack the mystery of why this cop is after your wife. Leave the apartment? The loop restarts. Die? The loop restarts. Wait out the clock? The loop restarts. It’s up to you to uncover the mystery and end this cruel groundhog day.

Analysis:

I have been excited about this game for a long time. It’s a big concept to begin with, one that seems ripe for conflict and drama. Not to mention the fact that big name actors were cast in the roles of the main three characters – James McAvoy voices the main character you control throughout the adventure, Daisy Ridley plays his wife, and Willem Dafoe is the cop. The pedigree behind this game alone instantly intrigued me.  

To be honest, I was disappointed in the voice acting. Those three actors all have very distinct voices—McAvoy’s Scottish brogue, Ridley’s British accent, and Dafoe’s rough menace are all instantly recognizable. However, both McAvoy and Ridley decided to use American accents, and because of this, they lost all of the nuance and gravitas they could have had if they used their native accents. In stark contrast, Dafoe is classic Dafoe in this game, but he is so intense and gruff that it comes off as almost comical at times. 

The game is no next-gen powerhouse. The graphics are simplistic, but that serves the purpose of not distracting from the drama of the piece. Shot from a top-down, diorama view, the apartment you share with your wife can get very claustrophobic, but it is a nice touch that you know the solution to the mystery is contained within the confines of your apartment. If you get stuck, just start clicking away. The controls are simple, too—it’s a standard point-and-click style game. They felt a little floaty to me though, and I wish they were tighter, but that’s a minor quibble. 

The plot is why I got into the game in the first place, and it instantly drew me in. Why was this cop so insistently pursuing this woman? What is the woman hiding? Why is the man stuck in a time loop? It got to the point that just the sound of the wife humming in the bathroom, indicating another loop had started, would frustrate me to no end. I felt just like how I assume the main character felt. Frustrated that I was so close to uncovering something, but having to start over from scratch. Additionally, some of the puzzles to get different answers and further the plot were compelling and made me feel like a genius. Some of them, though, were so obtuse that the only way to solve them was to look up a guide online.

But the plot could only hold my attention for so long. The more it dragged on, the more it seemed they were grasping at straws. The key element to why the cop was after the woman? It was so convoluted and so complicated that honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t want to give anything away, but the endings (there are multiple) are so confusing that I just don’t know what happened. This might be a spoiler, but there are other characters that are introduced but are voiced by the same actors and it just seems… sloppy. I’m a relatively smart person, but I am still having a difficult time determining what the outcome of the story was.

Verdict:

I really wanted to love this game. It was such a departure from what I typically play and started out as a breath of fresh air. I loved the tension provided by the limited setting and the twelve minute loop, and I was instantly hooked, wanting to save my wife and figure out why the crazy cop was so against her. But as the mystery started to unravel and some questionable choices were made in regard to the puzzle solutions and storylines, I found myself becoming more and more disinterested in the game. It is a shame, because it could have been something truly special. I will say that I would recommend the game to people looking for something different—the parts it gets right just works so well. But it comes with the huge caveat that the ending misses the mark completely. 

What do you think? Did you play Twelve Minutes? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.

Mark Pereira is a staff writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward SwordSuper Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.

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