Twelve Minutes Review – Takes a Little Longer Than That (PS5)

Luis Antonio is a 15 year veteran of the games industry. He first worked at Rockstar on games like Manhunt 2, Midnight Club: LA Remix, and Max Payne 3, before moving on to Ubisoft where he was a Lead Artist and Art Director. After tiring of mainstream development, he became Senior 3D Artist on Jonathan Blow’s The Witness before deciding to go it alone. Twelve Minutes is his first solo project and it has finally made it to PlayStation 5, but was it worth the wait?

Twelve Minutes is a point and click adventure game that sees a husband arrive home from work. His wife has planned a romantic evening, but the pair get a surprise when the police turns up, arrests the wife on murder charges, and then chokes the husband unconscious. Then everything rewinds and the husband finds himself just inside the front door of the apartment once again as if the last 12 minutes never happened. The problem is he’s doomed to repeat those 12 minutes over and over again until he can find a way to break the loop.

Twelve Minutes Review: A Simple Premise…

In terms of the control scheme, the game is very simple. Players can move anywhere in the apartment and items can be picked up with a single click. Items are then automatically added into the inventory after which they can be dragged onto any other object to use them. All interactive objects are clearly marked when the cursor moves over them so there’s no pixel hunting, or any contrived item combinations. However, unlike the control scheme, the puzzle solving is far from simple.

Once the tutorial ends and the husband enters the apartment, all hand-holding is over. The apartment is small; its 3.5 rooms include a bathroom, a bedroom, and a lounge/kitchen with a walk-in closet. While players are fairly confined in terms of physical space, this doesn’t the solution is easy to find. Perfectly innocent items can have a practical use in the future and you just have to find what it is. Throwaway remarks within conversations could be the clue for how to alter the next time loop.

Twelve Minutes Review

Players can often be left wondering what they’re doing wrong, especially when some loops depend on players completing actions in a specific order as well as having fairly good timing. There was one loop where I got stuck because the police would see me even though he was in a different room, and it was all because I hadn’t interacted with one object that I believed to be irrelevant at the time. There can be a lot of trial and error, but there’s always that 12 minute time limit to work things out before events reset once again. Alternatively, you can step out into the hallway corridor to reset things yourself.

The storyline seems fairly coherent until about halfway through when there’s then a revelation that turns everything on its head. There are no spoilers in this review but if you play this game, you’ll know exactly where I mean when you get there. From that point onwards, the story is spoiled by more than a few plot holes. The timeline of events seems to get mixed up on a number of occasions, characters change appearance, and a character is supposed to be one two sides of the country at the same time. Morals become extremely dubious when the husband takes advantage of characters who are completely unaware they’re in a loop.

… But a Complicated Execution

The whole thing turns into a confusing mess, and not just for the storyline. Puzzles after this point also become really obtuse. There can be a need to interact with objects multiple times with no indication why you need to do this. Sometimes this occurs over multiple loops where the only thing to do is repeat a single act. Eventually players will likely stumble upon one of seven different “outcomes”, some of which make sense and some of which don’t. One of those endings is for doing absolutely nothing, one that many people likely won’t see because of the counterintuitive nature of it. Three outcomes take players back around in a loop while the other three force the credits to play. Only one outcome brings the game to a complete stop, but having seen all of the outcomes, I’m still not completely sure what happened.

Any connection to the characters has to come through their voice acting as the game’s top-down view makes it impossible to see any facial expressions or properly gauge their reactions to other characters. For this, some top acting talent was recruited to bring things to life. The husband is played by James McAvoy while the wife is played by Daisy Ridley. Willem Dafoe gets the part of the policeman and another major character who I won’t spoil. Each actor gives a great performance but with the rapid nature of the game and a glimpse into just 12 minutes of their lives, none of the characters are ever really given a chance to shine properly.

Twelve Minutes Review

Twelve Minutes starts off well but eventually descends into chaos. The game’s premise of trying to rewrite 12 minutes of a couple’s time is a great idea but the execution varies in success. Twelve Minutes starts well with a convincing story loop and gameplay that makes sense. Unfortunately that story loop becomes confused with a controversial twist that muddies timelines and morals. Gameplay starts to lean heavily into trial and error and some will give up before they see some of the later outcomes. Those that persist will likely remain confused. Luis Antonio seemingly had a lot of ambition with this one, but it hasn’t completely paid off.

6.5
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Great use of a confined environment
  • Plot becomes confused
  • Dubious morals
  • Trial and error needed in several places