12 Minutes Review, a treat for fans of adventure games and time loops
James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, a typical cast of any great blockbuster or an independent film set to break out in European film festivals, and yet we are faced with a video game. With this in mind, if we add the seal of Annapurna Interactive and the name of Luis Antonio (responsible for the artistic section of The witness), the stage is set for us to put on our pasta glasses and begin our journey into the title with a glass of red on the desk. This fear, derived in part from the expectations generated after its initial announcement, is immediately buried. Mistrust vanishes before the right measure of its first curl, masterfully aiming each of us ending, more or less, to do the same despite our many possibilities. Of the, the mystery will guide your steps until a resolution of those which will make you rack your brain whatever ending touches you for the first time, make 12 minutes one of the most special video games in this class.
Be careful, it will repeat itself
Luis Antonio He has already demonstrated his good work, working on the low poly, to Witnesses, offering an excellent visual section, a large zen garden full of attractions that demand our attention for the present, requiring that we can see in what we observe, in order to solve the puzzle that awaits us. This is, in essence, the foundation on which 12 Minutes is built, observation. So it is not uncommon that when we start playing we come across a much more traditional point-and-click graphical adventure than some of us imagined. A book that takes up and reformulates the device justifying its use, without falling into the window of nostalgia, but without straying too far from gender identity.
That said, what the game asks of us is a somewhat traumatic evening in which we will play a man who comes home and is about to chat with his wife. In a few minutes, everyday life gets carried away and, after the doorbell rings, a stranger appears, marries the couple and ends the life of the protagonist. At least he thinks so, since in reality, instead of traveling into the unknown, he returns safe and sound at the entrance of his house. It’s about to pairing up with Bill Murray to lock himself in a time loop. Now what about our protagonist is something more cruel, because to the curse of the 12 minutes we have to add a spiral of death and pain typical of the sickest mind.
Simple and elegant aesthetics
But this is not the only cinematic reference that we will find in the title of Annapurna, which welcomes us with a carpet that powerfully recalls the view in the halls of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, and Sprinkle it all with various filters that add classic film grain to the blur of projectors of yesteryear. Something that looks good on you.
The central plane who governs the game, like Tarantino, is a most intelligent resource that is not limited to an aesthetic exercise. Its functionality can be understood through the confines of a low budget development. The drawing of the characters, whose faces are permanently hidden by the arrangement of the camera, or their animations, are totally taken advantage of this perspective. The same goes for the scene, which, as happened on the island designed by Jonathan Blow, does not require a lot of polygons to visually stand out. The use of color, lighting and even the arrangement of the furniture go hand in hand and contribute to the tone and development of the game., participating both in the decor and in the big puzzle that 12 minutes.
A puzzle which, although having also reached the consoles (serving as an exclusive to the Xbox family and be present in Xbox Game Pass), it clearly shows its origin. The PC is your natural platform, present the mouse as the most optimal form of control, but without being tedious when it comes to playing with a controller, something that helps the limited world that presents us.
The small and complex world of an apartment
All the action takes place in the protagonists’ house, a micro-world designed with care and precision in which nothing has been arranged by chance. Most objects serve their purpose when it comes to advancing the plot, in many cases forcing us to think of alternatives that we are not used to in video games. Something that also happens with the patterns of behavior, the dialogues that one can maintain and even the moment and the state of mind in which one decides to approach certain questions. All of this will be reflected in the conversation options that will be open to us in order to continue investigating a mystery. Which I’m not going to tell you about, as it’s a very spoiler-sensitive plot.
This branch he boasts of 12 minutes it is both a virtue and a fault. When everything is rolling and, especially at the beginning, it is able to generate an overwhelming feeling of naturalness, with spontaneous reactions that teach us to pay attention to detail, knowing that the dumbest action can mark the future of the loop we find ourselves in. However, this effect wears off after a few curls, revealing the creature’s skeleton. It’s not a big problem, beyond the initial expectations, in a short time you assume the mechanical part and it is easy to start enjoying it in a great way.
Each new loop hide a piece of the big puzzle in front of us. The good news is that, except rarely, we have many ways to move forward and different ways to get information. Something that contrasts with the rigidity of the title at certain points in the game. The structure of its development can be described as a funnel which redirects all possible ramifications towards a common situation which guides the player towards the different endings of the work. The more the fence is closed, the less flexible the game becomes, and that’s when moments of frustration can start to appear., which can lead us to wonder why such a character does not react to such an action or how it is possible that a certain dialogue does not generate the effect that we seek. In addition to lacking more ways to pass the time faster to avoid the wait, there are quite a few, but the existence of a few others would have made it possible to oxygenate the most constraining moments.
Luis Antonio’s graduation ceremony
These are details that don’t skew the end result. The structure, which in the first bars is malleable and incredibly natural, becomes completely systematic. The puzzle ends up dominating the game and, despite these little friction I’m talking about, it’s a pleasure to navigate the mind map, which we end up generating, to find the key to the mystery that concerns us.
This whole road is bathed in the sound of the Gardel’s tangos, and his own songs composed for the occasion, which touch the darker side of the history we are living, giving the whole a unique atmosphere capable of generating the greatest of tensions. From there it follows a speech that speaks to us of the inevitable, of the destructive force of time and of the human psyche as a place of investigation, in which to navigate through mazes capable of hiding even the most remarkable memories. A path open to interpretation, avoiding over-explanation and leaving the door open to the theories of actors, which I also celebrate.
12 minutes it had the disadvantage of landing loaded with expectations, of being perhaps the most anticipated indie video game of recent years. An expectation which usually does not bode well (which did not accompany the other great independent game of the summer, Route 96), and that it repeatedly generated invoices that the work was unable to pay. Fortunately we can say that what is new about Luis Antonio, justifies all the echo that has been generated around him. It’s not a perfect game, and it can feel overly restrictive or whimsical in its final moments. But beyond the courage of his proposal, he manages to be efficient and consistent most of the time, dealing with ease with the difficult balance between challenge and reward that must occur in a graphic adventure of these characteristics. Something that, in my opinion, comes to tell us that, In addition to a character exercise and one of the video games with the most personality of this present 2021, it is a great graphic adventure., an eminently textual title that will delight fans of the genre.
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