It goes without saying, the main reason I stick to reviewing games and genres I’m most experienced with is not just because of personal preference, but also because they’re a lot easier to understand and critique. I’ve spent most of my time shooting and blowing stuff up so when those experiences are bad or unsatisfying, it’s easier to explaining why.
Stepping out of my comfort zone to play a platformer or two has often yielded great results and, even though I found my own appreciation for those titles and enjoyed playing them, I’ve always found it harder to recommend or criticize because all my experience with similar games was limited and couldn’t judge properly whether or not these games hit the mark with what they’re trying to achieve.
When I started playing Twelve Minutes, I was excited by the concept and the fact that they had such major acting talent behind the characters but in the end, I found a game that reminded me why I like the genres I like and why comfort zones aren’t such a bad thing after all.
There’s no rule that says all good games have to be liked by everyone and that’s certainly the case today. So, without further ado, let me tell you why I’m not a fan of Twelve Minutes.
TWELVE MINUTES REVIEW
So, What’s It All About?
Twelve Minutes is a point-and-click adventure where you step into the shoes of The Husband as he returns home from work after a long day. A quick tutorial out in the hallway to introduce you to the very simple controls as you enter and then it’s into your apartment where your wife and the infamous twelve-minute loop await.
After entering the apartment and enjoying a lovely desert with The Wife, A Cop comes knocking on the door claiming that you’re both under arrest and need to open the door. Once he enters, he immediately restrains The Wife and The Husband then begins interrogating her to find the location of a watch.
He then starts strangling The Husband, demanding that The Wife tells him where the watch is and, just before she can reveal its location, The Husband loses consciousness and wakes up to find the evening has restarted back to the point where he first entered the apartment. After a few repetitions, it becomes clear that this loop will continue unless The Husband can break it.
By picking up items, interacting with different objects, asking questions, and timing your actions perfectly, you’ll have to investigate the mystery and discover the truth about The Wife’s past and why The Cop seems determined to put both of you in jail or, even worse in the ground.
Then, What’s Good About It?
One of the biggest highlights from the marketing for this game was the mention of the top-tier acting talent that was involved. I’m a big fan of James McAvoy’s work and even Willem Dafoe and Daisy Ridley have starred in movies that I’ve enjoyed a lot so the mention of their names did more than enough to get me interested in playing Twelve Minutes.
Safe to say, they did not disappoint. Every line of this script was expertly delivered and, no matter the scenario, I found every single performance believable especially when the scenes became incredibly tense. It’s amazing how much character they’re able to bring to these roles within the short timeframe in which the story takes place.
I think sound design plays just as critical a role too. The apartment is tiny with only a few rooms to enter and a few windows to look out of but the atmospheric sounds of the weather and footsteps of the neighbors as they move around in the imaginary rooms next door sets the scene in a fantastic way.
Overall, the plot is pretty entertaining and the biggest thing holding it back, at least to me, is the fact we have to experience it inside of a video game. A very clunky, frustrating, and uninteresting video game
And, What’s Bad About It?
Aside from the story, I did not enjoy playing this game at all. I’m not opposed to puzzles within a game, I mean, I ended up completing all the Riddler puzzles when I played Arkham Knight, but there’s just something so rigid about Twelve Minutes design that makes puzzle solving incredibly frustrating and not a satisfying experience at all.
As good as the narrative might be, the story beats just never felt like the hours of mental athletics were worth it. Once I was able to reach a new clue or discover a new piece of evidence, I didn’t feel motivated to repeat the loop for an inch more progress and had to power through to discover my first ending.
I find it weird that a game based on a time loop has no replay appeal whatsoever and it was confirmed when I watched videos to see the other endings. Had this game’s premise, characters, setting, and brightest conclusion been presented as a well-paced and edited film, I think it would’ve been a much better experience.
Should I Play It?
Err…kinda? There’s no doubt in my mind that Twelve Minutes is a unique experience that I wouldn’t deter anyone from trying at least once. It certainly wasn’t a game that was right for someone like me but for anybody else that prefers their games at a slower pace or enjoys the complex puzzle work of detective titles.
I’m glad that I gave it a try at least once and I don’t think I’m going to be playing it again. Honestly, it only makes me more excited for the next time I get to shoot my way to a solution instead of racking my brain trying to solve another puzzle. Some games just aren’t for me, man.
Have you played Twelve Minutes or given other games like this a try? What did you think of the unique puzzle-solving experience and what did you make of the pot and its many twists towards the end of the story? Let me know in the comments section below.