Eagerly anticipated since its presentation in 2019, 12 minutes so far has been very puzzling in terms of gameplay and how it works. However, this week we had the opportunity to attend an unprecedented presentation of the title at an event organized by Xbox. As a result, new in-game sequences, but also a demonstration of the game mechanics. And with a release we’re announcing very soon, it was time to tackle these issues in the company of his creative director Luis Antonio!
Classic gameplay …
If 12 minutes have attracted so much expectation and attention since E3 2019, it is thanks to the script and the very special production. The game puts us in the shoes of a man who is stuck in a 12-minute time warp and has to figure out how to survive during this time. Because on a peaceful evening in the company of his wife, our hero sees his life turned upside down when an assassin crosses the doorstep and coldly kills the couple. You therefore need to understand who is against your life for what reasons and, most importantly, how to change the course of history.
With its view from top to bottom, the title quickly stands out from other current productions. However, if the game seems very original due to its narrative bias (which I will discuss in more detail below), we will find ourselves on familiar ground in the gameplay portion. They won’t direct your character, but it’s an on-screen pointer that you can use to aim at the various items that appear. And interact with them like an old-fashioned point-and-click.
One important difference: while it will be possible to pick up small items, there will be no contextual help. It will therefore be necessary to “guess” the possible interactions. It should all be natural, however: you are not expected to mix soap and salt to make a Mac Gyver-style explosive, but rather to use your mug with the sink to fill it with water. Simple and logical. In addition to these mechanisms of interaction with the environment, there are multiple-choice dialog options: We select the line of dialog that our avatar should say and observe the result.
… for a game that is not
This very simple gameplay promises instant learning. All of this in order to be able to focus on the main element of the game and the heart of its originality: the time warp. The famous 12 minutes of the title. In case you weren’t aware of this, the game’s premise is an endless 12-minute repetition of your character’s life. Apart from the fact that he is aware that he is experiencing the same situation over and over again: He will therefore remember every action that was carried out in the previous loops.
And thus it brings a logical progression and a real development between the runs. But since everything is in real time, obviously it won’t be possible to do everything. Are you going to try to convince another character of what is going to happen so that they can help you, even if it means a waste of time? Or do you leave it in the dark to prepare for the inevitable? Or maybe you pretend you don’t know just to live. Over time, therefore, more and more dialog or interaction options should be available that suggest a variety of possibilities.
So it all looks promising. However, some doubts remain. First, I noticed some inaccuracies in the animations. Nothing serious but possibly boring in a game where we try to get you into the skin of a character and their story like 12 minutes. However, the high-flying dubbing and the top view should make it easy to overcome this trap.
Most of all, I have serious doubts about the interest of the title after its discovery. Except surprisingly, the entire action of the game takes place in an apartment with few rooms and 3 characters. And there is no end. Luis Antonio actually confirmed to us that the loop never ends. In his own words, “this is not a game but an interactive thriller” and there is no right or wrong way to do it: it is up to the player to decide when they have seen enough, when. He will feel that he has found a conclusion on the story that suits him. It can be a brilliant idea when the options are really plentiful. Or a hell of a big mistake believing that we will have completed the game in 2 hours and that all runs don’t look too similar to keep the player interested. However, Luis Antonio wanted to be pretty reassuring on this last point: if the loop is this short, it is precisely to prevent the player from getting tired too quickly of having to do the same thing all over again before getting what they want. Try it again .
Future nugget or wet cracker?
So I came out of this presentation with mixed opinions. On the one hand, I really want to discover the possibilities that the game offers. The original narration and organic gameplay make you want to experiment. On the other hand, with such a small play area and a very short time loop, will the opportunities offered satisfy the player after discovery? The answer shouldn’t take long, as the game is in the final test phase and we are promised a release “in the next few months”.