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Twelve Minutes hands-on preview: Time keeps turning

Tension ramps up quickly in Twelve Minutes from Annapurna Interactive and Luis Antonio. Shacknews takes a look.

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There are some moments in time that a person might wish to relive. It's the expression, "If I had it to do over again." While nobody can do that in real life, that's part of the beauty of video games. Video games give people chances to approach certain scenarios repeatedly from different angles. Twelve Minutes plans to be a contemporary approach to this idea, giving players a chance to relive the same scenario repeatedly, only with much higher life-and-death stakes.

Twelve Minutes, from developer Luis Antonio, follows an unnamed protagonist, who is just coming home from a long day at work. He enters his apartment and meets his wife, who has just made him his favorite dessert. A romantic evening in is quickly disrupted by a police officer, who knocks on the door, accuses the wife of murder, and proceeds to violently subdue the couple. The game's main objective is to determine what sets this chain of events into motion and how to alter them in such a way that everybody escapes with their lives.

On the surface, the interface comes across like the standard one for any LucasArts-style adventure. When I click an object, I expect to see a menu for how to interact with the object. To my surprise, Twelve Minutes doesn't waste time on any of that. For example, I clicked on the dessert in front of the main character and he immediately started digging in. Reactions are almost instantaneous. The wife saw the dessert being eaten and immediately reacted with passive-aggressive anger. I was never able to sway her back to a good mood before the police officer ultimately busted through the door.

The time loop will kick in out of the blue, sending the main character back to when he first entered the apartment. He'll retain his full memory, so at that point, Twelve Minutes becomes a lateral thinking puzzle. He can try to tell his wife what's about to happen, but she'll demand proof and there isn't exactly a lot of compelling evidence present. Players will have to make a convincing case by selecting the right conversation prompts, fiddling around with the right objects around the apartment, and eventually presenting their findings to the wife.

Needless to say, this is not easy and my time with the game was only limited to roughly a 15-minute window. Twelve Minutes doesn't look like it'll be a particularly long adventure, given that the whole story is limited to such a short period of time. However, the way in which players interact with objects and the way in which the wife reacts to almost everything he does in real-time makes this feel more interesting than the average adventure game. Tension will run high, as players realize that time is running short and the police officer is getting closer and closer.

Once players begin the Twelve Minutes time loop, it's hard to envision stopping until the mystery is ultimately solved. The race against time will begin soon. Twelve Minutes, an official Tribeca Games selection, is coming to PC later this year.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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