Twelve Minutes is a narrative-driven point-and-click adventure developed by industry veteran Luis Antonio, who was an artist for both Rockstar Games and Ubisoft before leaving to work briefly on The Witness in 2012. Twelve Minutes marks this talented artist’s first outing as a completely independent developer, with publishing duties being handled by the folks at Annapurna Interactive. The result is a game that will leave you talking about it long after completion and is well worth the effort, even if it misses the mark in regards to accessibility in some areas.
The story in Twelve Minutes is a self-proclaimed interactive thriller in which a husband caught in a 12-minute time loop must prove his wife’s innocence after she is accused of her father’s murder. The player assumes the role of the husband (voiced by James McAvoy of X-Men fame) as he repeatedly relives the night of the arrest and tries to piece together the truth.
Gamers who are motor-function impaired will find a partially accessible experience throughout mostly due to the nature of point-and-click games, which consist primarily of choosing objects in the environment that can be picked up and used in interesting combinations. But, the 12-minute time limit can make dragging an object from your inventory to the desired place frustrating because you have to hold a button to do so. I played on PC using a DualShock 4, so in my case I had to use X. The husband carries all the new information he learned to the next loop, however since you’re contained to one room, objects don’t carry over to the next loop, so if the cops arrest the wife before you get to use an item in your inventory, you have to pick them up again in the next loop. It’s a nuisance until you memorize placement, but even then, it requires quick thinking and some dexterity. That being said, it’s a relief that interacting with objects doesn’t require cycling through a menu of available options like in the Monkey Island Franchise.
Twelve Minutes is played from a top-down perspective and is also partially accessible for those with visual impairments. Interactive prompts are a decent size by default, but there appears to be no way to make them larger if need be, and when this is compounded a cursor that’s both white and small unless resting on an interactive object, it may result in barriers for visually impaired players. Subtitles are decently sized and readable, but there are no options to adjust their appearance. Their color alternates from white to blue to purplish pink based on who’s speaking (player character is white, the wife is purplish pink, and the cop is blue), however the lack of any colorblind mode may make seeing these colors difficult for some players, and a lack of speaker-tags doesn’t help the situation. It’s a pity there aren’t any visual cues to signal the policeman’s arrival beforehand because it’d really help in preparing for his arrival.
As far as I could tell, nothing in Twelve Minutes requires the ability to hear, and the subtitles are readable enough, so following along shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. This is great news, since the story is incredibly powerful. The bulk of the story’s impact is in the dialogue, and the player’s choices are front and center, so deaf and hard-of-hearing players shouldn’t have any trouble.
Luis Antonio’s narrative-driven telltale-inspired adventure title takes the decade-old video game trope of repetition and subverts expectations by weaving it into the narrative in a way that very few games have ever managed to do. It results in one of the most powerful and mind-bending stories of recent years, bolstered by a suitably ominous Willem Dafoe performance and the talented James McAvoy and Daisy Ridley. This murder mystery will leave you with questions long after the credits roll and is a bound to be one of the year’s best and most underappreciated gems. Don’t miss it!