It goes without saying at this point, but indie games offer a ton of variety with their gameplay structures, the stories they tell, or whether it’s the visual variety and creativity on offer. We have covered quite a few indie games so far here on our website with our series indie game spotlight, and you can see how different each game is from the other. Today’s contender is yet another game that successfully established its own identity and gave us a somewhat unique and interesting experience. The last thing I tend to cover with these articles is: Should you play this game? And the answer to that question is yes in most cases, but I am not so sure where I’d put this game we are going to talk about because, though it’s unique, it doesn’t offer a lot of freedom or replayability. We’ll get there when we talk about that. Today’s game: “12 Minutes.”
What Is ’12 Minutes’?
Ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? You know, the one with Bill Murray where he is trapped in a time loop? This game is pretty much that, but much darker in tone, and the time loop here only lasts for 12 minutes, thus the name “12 Minutes.”
The game presents itself from a top-down perspective and begins as a husband arrives back at his house to his loving wife. They greet each other, and the husband helps his wife set up the table so they can enjoy their dinner. As they talk and eat, the wife breaks the news to him and lets him know that she is pregnant. Their joy is cut short as they receive a knock on their door, which turns to horror as the man outside, who claims to be a police officer, assaults them as they open the door, ties the husband down, and kills the wife. With no context or information on what’s going on, the husband tries to reason with him while struggling for his wife, and poof! The clock resets to the moment he arrives at his house. Left in shock as to what he has witnessed, he tries to shrug it off but soon sees the same events repeating themselves in front of his very eyes and realizes that he is stuck in this hell.
This is “12 Minutes.” A game that was advertised as an “interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop.” Is it exactly as it was advertised, though? The answer is a yes but also a no. Sure, it is an interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop, but in reality, it’s a sort of point-and-click adventure. You have 12 minutes before the man arrives and kills your wife, and you have to find clues and items and use them to your advantage and figure out what is happening, all the while trying to stop it from happening. One thing to note right from the start is the cast of this game; the game is written by Luis Antonio and features Hollywood stars. James Mcavoy voices the husband, Daisy Ridley the wife, and Willem Dafoe the killer. It should go without saying that their performances are nothing short of stellar here, especially Mcavoy, as he single handedly steals the show.
The tone and mood here are very dark, as you can naturally tell, and based on what you find/learn and how you use it, the story unravels and moves forward. Don’t let that fool you, though, as there is only a singular path that you can walk on with next to no deviation or use of your intellect/creativity. The game will only progress forward the way it’s programmed/intended to. This is the biggest drawback/disappointment the game throws your way. Sure, the setting, perspective, and story are interesting, but the gameplay is just plain bad. There are many games out there that borrow heavily from the point-and-click genre while making their own identity out of that and still end up being unique and memorable experiences. “12 minutes” is not that game.
One more quick thing to note here is that the story is quite disturbing, and I don’t only mean the murder part. As you unravel it, the things you’ll learn and discover are disgusting and disturbing, to say the least, and, I’ll be honest, I can see what they were trying to do with it, but in the end, it falls apart and doesn’t make any sense at all.
Can I say more about this game? Probably yes, but that’d be unnecessary and only stretch the length of this article without actually providing any relevant information. So, that’s “12 Minutes” in a nutshell, an interactive, point-and-click style game about a time loop mystery that unravels slowly and features an incredible cast of actors. All of this now points to the question-
Should You Play ’12 Minutes’?
I don’t know. The game was released on Xbox Game Pass, and if it was still there, I’d say go and check it out because what’s the harm if you are already a member, right? As a standalone purchase, however, would you want to spend money to get it? I am not too sure. Don’t get me wrong here because the game is exactly what it was advertised to be. It is an interactive thriller and is about a time loop, but there’s so little substance here, and the delivery doesn’t land as well as it was intended to, in my opinion. There’s enjoyment to be had here, especially if you know nothing about the plot and have the patience to play it exactly the way it wants you to play it, but other than that, there’s no need to rush out and get this one. It can wait.
The game will run for about 2-3 hours to complete, and for my achievement hunters, this is an easy completion in just about the same time with a guide. Almost every achievement here is missable/ requires you to do specific things during specific loops, so having a guide is recommended and handy here.
“12 Minutes” is available for $24.99 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and 4, and PC. I may have made it sound like this game is bad, but that’s not the case. It’s alright, and there’s no problem with that. Feel free to check it out if any of what I said sounds interesting to you. I personally had some fun but wasn’t as impressed with what was on offer.