Twelve Minutes - Review

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Lluis Enric Mayans


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Review for 12 Minutes. Game for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X, the video game was released on 19/08/2021

What would it be like to relive the same day, carrying out the same actions and having the same conversations, trapped in a time loop with no way out? Actors Bill Murray and Tom Cruise know something about it, who in two distinct films (Ricomincio da capo and Edge of Tomorrow - Without tomorrow), very different from each other as a concept, found themselves in this same situation. And the protagonist of Twelve Minutes, a title born from the mind of the creative Luís António and published by Annapurna Interactive, an independent publisher closely linked to the film industry as a subsidiary of Annapurna Pictures.

It is therefore not surprising that they were involved in the Twelve Minutes project acting personalities of the caliber of James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, who have lent their voices and interpretations to this atypical graphic adventure with a retro flavor for old-school point-and-click gameplay mechanics. The title, since its first appearance during an Xbox Games Showcase event, has aroused the interest of players and professionals in the videogame sector, and has certainly not gone unnoticed even after its release, as demonstrated by the recent interest and appreciation. audience of an important personality for the gaming industry such as Hideo Kojima. Will 12 minutes be enough to solve the puzzle designed by Luís António and convince the player of the goodness of his title?

Let's answer the second question right away: in just 12 minutes the Twelve Minutes player is involved in a mysterious, fascinating and tragic story in a convincing and compelling way. We will therefore discover how a normal life as a couple can be upset by an unexpected visit, able to cast shadows within an apparently solid and happy family picture.

The opening words are both simple and ingenious: a man, returning from a tiring working day, is greeted by a caring wife who has prepared a surprise for him. The occasion is one of the happiest but, precisely during the most convivial and intimate moments of the story, a stranger knocks insistently on the door of the house, introducing himself as a policeman, and goes to upset the existence of the two until a tragic epilogue.

The protagonist's unexpected awakening from what appears to have been a simple nightmare actually reveals a temporal parodox in which the man will be forced to relive the same day, or rather the same 12 minutes, forever and will have to try in some way to change the course of events.

Featuring a top-down view, definitely unusual for our gaming era, 12 Minutes plays very well with mouse and keyboard given its old-school point-and-click setting, while on console, with the pad, it will take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the few and unusual commands. It will in fact be necessary to use a pointer to direct the character as well as to interact with the essential components that furnish the couple's small apartment. For the rest, Luís António's title is configured with a gameplay based on the possibility of multiple answers during the dialogues and interaction with the various objects recovered at home.

The real strength of Twelve Minutes lies in the fact that it pushes the player to reason, think, invent and discover how to get out of this infinite loop without shortcuts or half ways (and it is a bit, to quote the experience that Kojima experienced, what happened in the productions of the early nineties - ed).

Especially in the initial stages of the title there is a truly unexpected freedom of action which then gradually diminishes to leave room for scripted and necessary actions for the continuation of the plot, as in the most classic of graphic adventures. Of course the initial enthusiasm partially decreases when it is realized that, to reach the final goal of the title, it will be necessary to perform certain actions or choose certain dialogues, losing that component of amazement and freedom that characterizes the first phase of gameplay.

Twelve Minutes has several endings and, without forgetting that the story tells 12 minutes of the life of three people, the epilogue could leave you puzzled by an apparent haste, although the intent to push the player to reasoning and to hypothesize an explanation is clear , even if illogical, as in the most classic of films based on time loops and paradoxes. Own the cinematic cut of the title published by Annapurna Interactive is among the most appreciable: the construction of the plot, the acting tests of the three actors and a sound reduced to the bone - but effective - make the Twelve Minutes experience positive within a story that can be solved in a handful of hours, which can be extended if you decide to explore the various endings available and unlock the 12 objectives of the game, not surprisingly.

It goes without saying that such a title will not satisfy all palates but it will certainly meet the favor of those who prefer a good storytelling to an elaborate and colorful gameplay. In this sense, Twelve Minutes is not free from defects, starting from a deliberate limitation of a gameplay that, characterized by uncomfortable controls on consoles, tends to delude the player that he can freely influence the possible situations that will occur in the 12 minutes of the loop. Not so, but the general feeling is that of facing a new and interesting challenge, and this is certainly not a small one.

Twelve Minutes presented itself to the public after a handful of intriguing videos and very few details, generating a lot of curiosity and at the same time many expectations: will it have disappointed the expectations? The answer is not obvious, as we are faced with an atypical and partly innovative graphic adventure, with the narrative and conceptual work of Luís António amplified and enriched by three important and skilled actors, capable of rendering an unlikely situation, such as that of the time loop, more credible than one might expect. The initial freedom of action is something wonderfully amazing, even if it then turns into a sort of decoy. In this, however, we must be objective: it is essentially impossible to reveal the plot of a graphic adventure, based on the narrative, without necessarily performing scripted actions or facing certain choices in the dialogues. The truth therefore lies in the middle: 12 Minutes literally takes the player back in time, leaving him displaced in front of a story in which, especially in the early stages, he will find himself a passive spectator who will then move blindly, in search of a clue or a solution input. The ending may not convince everyone due to a resolution as unexpected as it is hasty but, in general, the Annapurna Interactive title deserves more than one chance.

► 12 Minutes is a Point & Click-Puzzle-Adventure-indie game for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X, the video game was released on 19/08/2021

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