The time-looped adventure game is loaded with clever design, tense situations, and Shyamalan-worthy script twists.
From the beginning of the credits sequence of Twelve Minutes, one realizes that he is facing an elegant, careful, important, different game and with a fixation on cinematographic art that goes beyond the use of first-rate actors. Luis Antonio’s debut feature as an independent developer is one of the indies that has generated the most expectation in recent years due to its unique premise: an interactive thriller with graphic adventure mechanics structured in a time loop . It is one of those ideas where many things could have gone wrong, but it is far from the case.
The story of the work edited by Annapurna Interactive takes place in a small apartment . The protagonist comes home after a long day at work. The wife greets him with a kiss and tells him that she has prepared a surprise for him: his favorite dessert, which they eat under the warm light of artificial candles. In the middle of the evening, a policeman breaks into the home , accusing the woman of the murder of her own father and demanding that she give him a watch that he allegedly stole from her. The tense situation concludes with the police murdering the husband (handled by the one who plays), who reappears at the door of the house knowing what happened while the woman does not remember anything. Every time he dies or when twelve minutes pass, he will returnto that starting box. You are in a time loop, and our goal is to help you get out of that nightmare.
Interaction, experimentation, investigation and repetition
In the playable, this translates into a graphic adventure in a zenith perspective where the knowledge acquired after each loop prevails . Without our interaction, the situation described above would repeat itself, unchanged, forever. It is with attention to the details of the actions of the other characters (the woman and the policeman) and of the sentences; and with the experimentation with the elements of the environment , logic and without the convoluted and absurd situations that frequently occur in the genre; how we will advance in the plot.
Little by little we will realize how to use the items that we have at our disposal, how to mix them together and how to use them in the elements distributed throughout the rooms of the apartment (the living room, the bathroom, the closet and the bedroom), in order to do so. discover new clues that will unlock new options for dialogue and interaction with the characters. The protagonist remembers this acquired knowledge , unlike the other two characters, who will respond incredulously to our statements that we are immersed in a time loop and other facts that we bring to light.
The game is full of tough situations that, due to its structure, we will repeat over and over again.
The twist to a mechanic as classic as the one described is in that time loop: we are playing against the clock . In the up to twelve minutes that the loop can last, we will have to carry out the actions and dialogues that we consider in the appropriate order to get the information that we intend to get out of that game. Each attempt is like a polyhedral puzzle whose result depends on the placement of the pieces in different ways, so that we affect the evolution of the characters and the conversations.
This means that the situation will have to be repeated many times . And still, it doesn’t get repetitive. In part, because the game has several systems that allow us to advance the dialogues already heard, cut off conversations, advance several minutes in the loop and restart it quickly in case we have made a mistake. But also because the information is presented to us in such a precise way that it is very difficult for us to get out of a loop without knowing something else that we can use in the next game.
It is true that there are a couple of slightly hidden details that can leave us stuck for a while and that remind us of the worst moments of the graphic adventures of the 90s: items with which to interact that are not seen with the naked eye and some action of other characters in which you have to pay too much attention to detect that we can use it to our advantage. Something that can artificially increase the duration: we have taken between 7 and 8 hours to see one of the endings , and the account reaches 10 having discovered another three.
Getting more information and discovering interactions will unlock new conversations.
Saving the aforementioned detail, Twelve Minutes is an accessible game not only for the regular player . It is one of those titles that we recommend for someone who is new to interactive entertainment: the interactions are very natural and logical . The control is so simple that on PC you use a mouse button for everything, to the point that the right click pauses the game; On the console, the cursor is operated with the right lever and the actions are carried out with one of the triggers, which seems less precise to us than if they allowed the protagonist to be moved directly with one of the sticks .
Tense situations in a tough plot
Although the different forms of interaction and the loop are very fun mechanics, what sustains the adventure is a plot that always progresses thanks to our active participation . It is a thriller that makes us remove layers of surprising information from an onion whose seed we hope to reach, but beyond that, it is a story with a very well measured rhythm.
Despite the premise, it is not only the foreseeable: the exploration of couple relationships , the problems that may appear in them, love, affection and forgiveness. It is allowed to discuss some social issues , and of course, reflect on violence and its consequences. The script written by Luis Antonio and Steven Lerner is full of tense situations, twists worthy of M. Night Shyamalan ( The Sixth Sense , The Protected ) and uncomfortable sequences that, due to the structure of the game, dismantle us when we contemplate them over and over again. again.
There are several systems, such as being able to advance the conversations (and therefore, the time) so that the repetition does not become so repetitive.
The story ends leaving us wanting to go back to the loop again to try to get another resolution and reflecting on what was told after closing the game. And although taking into account only the events narrated you cannot reach the same conclusion, when you think about how they have made you arrive and go through those situations, it is clear that we are facing one of the best plots that video games have made us live in. the last months.
Conciseness allows dedication
The setting of Twelve Minutes is excellent and an example of intelligent design : the conciseness of the project (just one apartment and three characters) has allowed a small independent team, with some subcontracting for animators and movement recording, to make an audiovisual section at the same time. height of its script and its mechanics. The zenith perspective chosen, in addition to supporting the accessibility of the title (to which the clear interface also contributes), places the player in a point of view that allows him to perceive the adventure as a small moldable play .
The fact that the camera is placed there also avoids having to devote resources to facial animations to dedicate all of them, first, to recreating all the elements of the apartment with a detailed but not photorealistic style , and second, to providing the characters with animations worthy of a blockbuster . It is so surprising to see the naturalness with which the couple dance, the realism with which the policeman ties up the marriage and the detailed animations of a punch or how the characters get up from the ground; such as the various reactions in the form of dialogue when an object is presented to them or you perform an action that catches their attention.
Some interactions take us to a first-person camera where the absence of facial animations does stand out.
The dubbing, of course, is impeccable: not in vain, James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe form the main casting and they have had to record many, many lines of dialogue translated, with some slight error, into Spanish . But just as commendable are the sound effects, whether it’s the rain hitting the windows, the baby crying next door, the loud footsteps of the upstairs neighbor , the loud impact of a stabbing, or the Hispanic music being played. on the radio, which adds several tracks to a minimalist, elegant soundtrack that makes sense in the game.
All this adds up, as well as the other legs of the work, to fully immerse ourselves in the game. That is why they collide so much, just like the moments when we get stuck in progress, the situations in which strange behaviors happen : interactions between the characters where the collision system goes a bit crazy, sentences that are interrupted from time to time. unrealistic way when something happens, and even some bug that has forced us to restart the game. It does not happen continuously : the title has been postponing its release date to polish all this as much as possible, but it has not been enough.
The setting is fantastic, where the sound effects stand out.
Twelve Minutes manages to do something much more complicated than it seems: bring an innovative idea to fruition . Its plot, with surprising script twists and told at a very good pace, is actively developed by the player, who has to carefully measure the interactions between objects, the conversations they have and their actions within a time-loop structure based on in the acquisition of knowledge in each attempt. All this in a very accessible game except for some situation that requires an unclear interaction, one of its few black points along with the small technical errors that occur in a fantastic audiovisual section. The first work that Luis Antonio signs as an independent developer is one of those games that have the privilege of staying in our memory.