Twelve Minutes review (Xbox One)

Twelve Minutes by Luis Antonio and Annapurna Interactive is one of those games that’s had an instant appeal ever since the first trailers emerged. Between a cinematic top-down view, a stellar cast of A-listers and the promise of a time loop narrative, we wanted to play this even before we knew anything about the actual gameplay. Now that it’s out on Xbox and PC (sorry, PlayStation owners), we’ve finally had a chance to play it.

In Twelve Minutes, you come home at the start of what is a twelve minute time loop, and the first one doesn’t end well. A detective bursts into your home, accuses your wife of murder, and ends up killing you as things escalate. It’s an ending that does a good job at conveying that “oops, let’s try this again” feeling that comes with any time loop scenario.

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Taking inspiration from the classic PC point and click adventures, you’ll use the analog stick to point to where in the scene you want to go and to interact with objects and other characters. Essentially a game developed for mouse control, I was surprised to find that (at launch) the game doesn’t support gaming mice on Xbox, but perhaps this will be patched in as it’s the primary control mechanic for PC owners and Microsoft’s hardware supports it as well.

Gameplay in Twelve Minutes doesn’t revolve around gathering a bunch of stuff in your inventory and trying to combine them with the environment, but rather about changing small things to see how they alter the course of a scene. One change (which can just be a different dialogue answer) might open up a new door, while another change can close it. The writing’s good enough to realize which changes makes sense and which don’t, so you rarely feel like you’re playing a game of trial and error.

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Although designed much like a film in its narrative delivery, Twelve Minutes will take about five to six hours to complete at first. There’s potential for further play as you explore different story branches, but we doubt it’ll be as impactful as your first playthrough even though there are a few interesting scenarios we’d like to see unfold. Part of that is because of the excellent voice work of James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, the latter of which being no stranger to videogame work. This is a mature thriller story, and their delivery fits the tone and narrative consistently.

Of course talking too much about the narrative would partly ruin the experience, but Twelve Minutes is a wonderful interactive thriller/mystery that’s also a great fit for two to three evenings spent together on the couch with a partner as you try and piece together the narrative together. Because of the stellar audiovisual delivery, it’s as entertaining as anything you could watch on a streaming service together.

Score: 8.2/10

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