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How The Time Loop Works


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Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Luis Antonio
Platform: Xbox One, PC

The indie title 12 Minutes is an interactive thriller about a man trapped in a 12-minute loop, and it got some time in the spotlight during Microsoft's press event at E3 this year.  The trailer below showcases the interesting premise, but we got some hands-on with with title to get a clearer idea of how the time loop works.

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The game focuses on three unnamed characters (a husband, a wife, and a cop) in three rooms. Players control the husband, who discovers he is caught in the time loop after he is killed by an intruder (the cop) shortly after you start the game.

Instead of dying, the husband just starts over at the beginning of the 12-minute cycle, he retains all the knowledge he previously gained. In the short term, the goal seems straightforward: You need to warn your wife about the impending danger, and prevent the intruder from harming anyone. You do this by experimenting with items and dialogue in the apartment, trying to convince your wife while also preparing for an attack.

During the first loop, you can't do much to defend yourself. The clock runs in real time. The cop shows up around the 3-minute mark, binds you and your wife, accuses her of killing her father, and then chokes you out. But in the next loop, you (and the character) can leverage what you learned to delay the attack or improve your odds.

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For example, when the cop knocked on the door the first time, my wife answered. So during the second loop, I told her not to answer the door when someone eventually knocks, but she was skeptical. In desperation, I ground up some sleeping pills and slipped them into her water, hoping she would go to bed. She did, and shut the bedroom door behind her. Then I locked the apartment's front door, hoping to delay the cop, who started pounding and yelling when he showed up. I called 911 from a cell phone I found in the closet... but the real police didn't arrive before the intruder busted in and found me. I tried attacking with him with a knife, but he overpowered me, and the loop started again.

Even if you as a player know exactly what to do, your interactions are limited by what the husband character learns. You need to poke at the environment, gauge characters' reactions, combine items, and try to extend your survival time. But as that continues, you also learn more about your wife and the intruder's motives, and a larger mystery unfolds. 

From what we played, that mystery seems compelling. Combined with the cool concept of the time loop, we're excited to learn more when 12 Minutes releases in 2020 for Xbox One and PC.

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