Pass The Controller* is a Slice of Culture series where we highlight video games, both AAA (blockbuster) and indie. Llanes will share honest and balanced opinions on what could be your next favorite game as well as some random tips every now and then!

During Microsoft’s press conference at E3 2019, a peculiar trailer was unveiled. 

It begins with a stormy night. A husband and wife are having dessert in their one bedroom apartment. The wife takes out a gift. The husband immediately tells her that he knows that the present is a onesie for their expecting baby and soon someone who claims to be a cop will enter their home, having a warrant for the wife’s arrest for her own father’s murder. This cop then breaks in.

Chaos ensues. And then the husband suddenly goes back twelve minutes in time, revealing that he is stuck in a time loop.

I thought that this trailer did an excellent job in selling this game and two years later, this point and click adventure titled “12 Minutes” finally released. It received polarizing reaction from players so naturally, I had to play it for myself.

The production value really sticks out.

The cast mainly consists of known Hollywood actors including James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe. All three do a pretty good job at voice acting as their voices feel natural and almost unrecognizable. 

(Annapurna Interactive screenshot)

The musical score and lighting also make the game feel a lot more cinematic despite the top down camera angle throughout. 

As the trailers suggest, the cop arrives at the apartment because the wife is accused of murder. So it’s the husband’s job to find the real killer while being trapped in the time loop.

Time can go back in three ways. These include dying, reaching the twelve minute time limit and simply walking out of the apartment.

The entirety of the game is set in just this one bedroom apartment with only four components.

There’s the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom and a closet. Despite the limited amount of space to move around, there is so much information to gather along with so many objects to interact with. 

This apartment is full of “Chekhov’s Guns,” but also “Red Herrings”. The phones, sleeping pills, knives and even the book the wife is frequently reading could all play a part in solving the mystery. However, some of these items serve zero purpose to the plot and are there to throw players off.

(Annapurna Interactive screenshot)

For the most part, I liked experimenting with time loops though the repetitiveness may turn people off.

Yes, there is an option to fast forward through dialogue and even skip to the moment when the cop arrives but some tasks need to be done in order to advance the plot such as setting the dinner table and convincing the wife that there is a time loop.

An annoying aspect to the game is how vague it can get when it comes to solving the mystery.

For example, an important object that is used later in the game is a Polaroid attached to a refrigerator. However, there is no foreshadowing or implication that this Polaroid is an object that can be interacted with. 

Then there is the elephant in the room that will stick with most upon reaching the end of this game. And that is the twist. It’s intended to be surprising and come out of nowhere. 

This is the point where “12 Minutes” started to lose me. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how underwhelming it really is. 

It came off as an attempt to add shock value, but this twist just came off as a simply underwhelming reveal.

It ultimately led to a weak conclusion to what I thought was a pretty solid game. 

(Annapurna Interactive screenshot)

But with that said, “12 Minutes” is worth trying out at least once at a discounted price.

There are multiple non-canon, alternate endings (some of which are low key better than the real ending) that add a whole lot of replay value.

It was a really addicting experience. The night I started playing, I always had the urge to play one more loop, always thinking that I’m one step closer to solving the mystery.

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