12 minutes is a new title coming out soon that shows that the video game medium is now ripe with experimental story-telling. Every once in a while a new sub-genre inadvertently shows up that tests the basic tendencies of gameplay and storytelling. It is minimalist in its approach to unweaving a yarn, yet it comes with depth that offers hours of replayability. The story takes place within an apartment unit where the characters have 12 minutes to solve a mystery before a time loop causes everything to reset. The characters are a husband, wife, and cop that is involved with a possible murder that happened 8 years ago. The players need to collect clues, make decisions and solve the mystery all within a series of 12-minute windows before things spiral out of control.
Luis Antonio developed this game and it will be published by Annapurna Interactive. It is constructed like the old point-and-click adventure games that were prominent during the ’90s. The perspective will be from top-down and the player will be involved with a couple that’s discovering that the wife might be involved in a murder. Within each time sequence, the player will collect information and make decisions based on what’s about to happen. Nothing is scripted and players will need to figure out what is the best course of action. Will they pack up and leave before the police show up, or will they just hide in the apartment and wait? With each subsequent time sequence, things will get increasingly complex as the player must memorize what is about to unfold so they can reach the climax.
What makes this interesting is that the player won’t really know what the ultimate goal or climax will be. It is up to them to figure out why time is repeating itself, who the murderer is and how to get out of the situation alive. Luis Antonio has had a robust career working in the video game industry. He has worked with some top-tier developers such as Ubisoft and Rockstar. He left behind the major AAA studios to work on smaller and more independent projects. One of his first smaller IPs that he worked on was The Witness back in 2012. After that title was completed, he set off to do something wholly original and had some dramatic weight. He wanted to explore the theme of choices and the consequences that come from them therein. Games today have the tools to mold the story-telling process into a unique experience.
Originally, 12 minutes was going to take place in suburbia that had a 24-hour time loop. However, Luis Antonio discovered that crafting that type of story was too advanced doing solo. Therefore, he decided to constrain the story into a single room with only a few characters. This game will be a thriller in the traditional sense. It will be inspired by the work of Kubrick, Hitchcock, Fincher, and a little bit of Ramis. With that said, if a player is a film aficionado, they will recognize little easter eggs scattered throughout the playthrough. The famous carpet pattern that is associated with The Shining is the same in the apartment hallway. That’s just one of many little nods to the suspense thrillers that Luis Antonio clearly grew up watching.
Forward To The Past
12 minutes was going to be released in 2016, but Luis Antonio was not really happy with the final product. He later recruited a small team of five people to polish the game and make it more accessible to gamers worldwide. The way the gameplay works is that the husband of the story only remembers the event that previously transpired. Therefore, with each time loop, the player must quickly find a way to bring the wife up to speed and convince her that something strange is going on. Even though this is a point-and-click game, it is worth noting that every object in the apartment can be interacted with. Players will be able to combine objects and move them anywhere throughout the apartment. This is not a linear story by any means. Players will need to take the initiative with the environment and experiment with things. Ideally, the playthrough should last up to 8 hours depending on how quickly players figure out the story.
Of course, just like with any other point and click game, there will be a conversation feature. Throughout the natural course of the story, the husband will remember everything which will expand options on what to say. There will be more warnings, hints, and subtle clues to relay to the wife to help drive the story forward. The titular 12 minutes happen in real-time and everything will become increasingly jarring with each expositionary discovery. At the start of every loop, the “cop” usually arrives within the 3-minute mark. Of course, the difficult thing at the start of every scenario is that the husband will need to bring the wife up to speed on what’s happening without sounding crazy. This is a tricky prospect, indeed and that is going to be half the fun of figuring things out. Whether the husband dies or if the clock runs out determines when the clock starts over. The way the scenario unravels can go in almost unlimited directions and players will need to be quick on their feet to get to the bottom of things.
Breaking The Loop
12 minutes is now completed with development and it will be released in a couple of weeks. Even though this is an indie project, it actually comes with top-billing talent within the Hollywood industry. Annapurna Interactive saw the potential that this title has and they decided to help out with publishing duties. This game is a breath of fresh air within the lineup of games that are set to come out in the next couple of years. It may even set a new standard with point and click games and with indie games in general. 12 minutes is slated to be released on August 19th for the Xbox and PC.