TIME WASTED
PC Gamer|November 2021
12 MINUTES squanders its time loop on dull repetition and the year’s worst twist ending.
Wes Fenlon

There’s a puzzle in adventure game Gabriel Knight 3 infamous for being so illogical that ‘the cat hair mustache’ has become the bad puzzle that all others are compared against – the pinnacle of design that makes you ask yourself, “How the hell was I ever supposed to think of that?” I had that exact feeling while playing 12 Minutes, which uses a time loop to let you live out its frustrating and obtuse puzzles again and again and again.

You start 12 Minutes as a nameless man coming home to your small apartment, where your wife greets you warmly with a candlelit dessert and a surprise: she’s pregnant. A few minutes later, a cop kicks down the door, accuses your wife of being a murderer and strangles you to death. Enter the time loop: still gasping for air, you reappear at the apartment door. How do you stop the cop from killing you, armed with the knowledge of what happens next?

Early on I thought the answer would lie in picking apart every action the characters in 12 Minutes take, but after a few basic discoveries, 12 Minutes becomes a game of rote incremental progress. The first time I figured out how to knock out the cop and start asking him questions it felt like a victory, but by the time I finished 12 Minutes I’d gone through the same steps at least a dozen times, trying to find new story paths branching off from every decision. It was never rewarding.

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