12 Minutes is a top-down timeloop thriller featuring a Hollywood all-star cast
First revealed back during E3 in June, Annapurna Interactive released some more info on narrative point and click thriller 12 Minutes as part of Gamescom. From the short new trailer we already know the small cast of people doomed to meet each other over and over again consists of none other than James McAvoy (X-Men, His Dark Materials), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Muder on the Orient Express) and Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Spider-Man).
In a new Behind the Scenes look at the voice-over sessions, Ridley, McAvoy and developer Luis Antonio further talk about what to expect. Immediately at the beginning of the video, Antonio pulls no punches: “If games were film, we’re still in the black and white, silent movie era,” he says. “In the game world, everything is about shooting, killing and scarring, but we’re slowly seeing this can go somewhere else.”
Antonio has worked on 12 Minutes for the last 7 years, and he seems to have fallen prey to the classic developer’s dilemma. “It was going to be a short game,” he says, “But I kept thinking ‘if you just go a little bit further, this can get really interesting’.” In an accompanying feature by Entertainment Weekly, the actors muse on the many narrative choices players will be able to make to produce a different outcome for each loop, while the overall mood of the story is “pretty dark”, according to Ridley. With script recordings for games generally happening out of order and a considerable amount of lines to record, the article suggests the flowchart of branching storylines is expansive and can be pretty difficult to follow.
In 12 Minutes, you’re watching a home invasion unfold from a top-down perspective. A husband and wife are enjoying dinner together, when suddenly a police officer breaks their door down and arrests them, before killing the wife. It’s a moment her husband is doomed to repeat, and in classic time-loop fashion, he needs to find out what happened, likely in order to stop the continuous interruptions to what looks like a nice date night. Games published by Annapurna Interactive always promise something different, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s not been one bad game in their current portfolio. Developer Luis Antonio sounds as ambitious about the potential of storytelling in games as his colleagues at Quantic Dream and Dontnod Games, and while high ambitions tend to make me slightly wary, I’m always here for a good story-focused game.