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Y'know how some games just stink of Britishness? I'm not talking about them having Union Jacks or the Queen in them or anything like that - there's just something about the way the characters are drawn and the way the levels named and all the crass attempts at humour in some games - 90s ones in particular - where you can just feel that they were made by some awful little British dude pecking away on a tobacco-stained Amstrad CPC. Jelly Boy is a prime example of this phenomena.
It's hard to imagine that I'll end up being as disappointed in another video game this year than I was with Twelve Minutes. The potential of utilising a timeloop with a mystery based point and click game would seem like a great mixture of genre and mechanics (and I still think it could be), but you'd be forgiven for thinking the opposite based on this.
The obvious problem here is that you're likely going to have to repeat your actions every now and then, something which has the potential to be a little bit monotonous. And alongside that, the game falls into the genre trap of having very specific solutions for certain puzzles which leads to potentially having to redo the loop entirely. There are a couple of ways to skip ahead but these are very specific and they don't save as much time as you might think.
Even then there was potential to come out of the game with a more positive outlook. Games of this genre can overcome issues like these if story is still intriguing, or the game's writing is able to keep you interested in what might come next. Unfortunately it doesn't take very long to realise that Twelve Minutes has neither of those either.
Part of the reason why these elements don't hit is due to this repetition, where you're provided with info dumps in one loop and then spend the next few working out how to apply that information, meaning there are sizable chunks of gameplay where you're learning nothing other than that a specific way to progress doesn't work. The other major reason is the reliance on multiple twists to further the plot, as well as relying on some of the more cliché mystery/thriller story elements, neither of which are earned. Sure they may theoretically explain away some of the unnatural and flat dialogue (I don't blame McEvoy, Ridley or Dafoe for this, to be clear) but in no way does it come across intentional.
All in all, it's just a massive shame that such an interesting concept ends up being bogged down by an amateurish story. It's not quite David Cage levels of bad but it's also not exactly streets away either...
A goddamn SUPERSTAR of a game where you can play as a communist ultraliberal who constantly spouts hints about the upcoming apocalypse, all while trying to find some speed but not doing it in front of your partner in case you end up disappointing them.
The only thing I came out this game wanting was more. More of its deep, fascinating world, more of its well written characters and more cases to investigate. I truly cannot wait to see what ZA/UM do next.
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