E3 always produces its fair share of indie announcements, and this year the most intriguing has got to be a new trailer for the collaborative effort between publisher Annapurna Interactive and developer Luis Antonio, 12 Minutes.
12 Minutes is a choice and consequence narrative adventure thriller about a man trapped in an infinitely repeating 12 minute time loop. The action takes place in a small one-bedroom apartment and breaking out of the time prison involves getting to the bottom of a murder for which his wife is the main suspect.
The development of 12 Minutes has morphed from a one-person passion project into a multi-member team effort using advanced tech like motion capture and bring in voice actors to bring the characters to life and create what we deem to be a gorgeous and refined art style. The Kubrick influences are clear to see, as is the more obvious Groundhog Day inspiration.
The loop itself starts with an intimate candlelit meal and news of a pregnancy before a police detective storms the apartment, accuses his wife of murder, and beats the man to death, at which point it restarts, jumping back to the meal. Using knowledge from past cycles of the loop, the player must take action to avoid the same outcome. New dialogue and action options appear in each successive playthrough as the character retains more information, giving 12 Minutes an incredibly layered depth.
12 Minutes is played from a top-down perspective and has point-and-click controls. The player has access to multiple rooms in the apartment, including the bedroom, living area, and bathroom. In each of these spaces, the player is free to take actions to alter the events of the specific cycle they find themselves in. Knock over furniture, combine items, attack the detective, trigger dialogue, sit in chairs, serve food, wolf down sleeping pills; there are innumerable permutations to explore.
The game is also very hands off. A minimal UI, no tutorial, nor any clear objectives; the player is thrown in and left to decipher the gameplay through experimentation. Although 12 Minutes only has three characters – husband, wife, and the police detective – and an almost claustrophobic setting, we can expect up to eight hours of story.
From what we know, the demo at E3 is a bit rough around the edges, and the full voice acting has yet to be implemented, but overall hints at a title that should sit comfortably among other forward-thinking indie curiosities that are well worth visiting.
Annapurna currently expects 12 Minutes to release in 2020 on PC and Xbox One but is refusing to set this in stone so we may have to wait longer.