Over the years, Annapurna Interactive has made a name for itself by publishing games that pair incredible storytelling with phenomenal gameplay. Games like What Remains of Edith Finch, Outer Wilds, and Maquette have satisfied gamers across all platforms in ways that other works often can’t manage. The success of these works is likely to ensure that Annapurna’s future endeavors stand out from the crowd.
Not content to rest on their laurels, Annapurna Interactive have another incredible slate of games arriving in 2021, including Last Stop and Solar Ash. However, the one game that should be on everyone’s radar is 12 Minutes.
Here are three reasons why people should be excited to play 12 Minutes.
12 Minutes is centered on a married couple living in their small apartment that gets startled by a home invasion, the catch being that said couple is trapped in this same moment thanks to a time loop. Thus, the only way for players to beat the game is to find a way to break the loop.
This notion of an unending time loop has showed up countless times in storytelling. Among the more high profile examples are films like Groundhog Day and Palm Springs, as well as games such as Annapurna’s Outer Wilds and the upcoming Deathloop. That said, a recurring plot conceit lives or dies by the manner in which it’s implemented, something which 12 Minutes’ developer Luis Antonio appears to have taken to heart.
It turns out the game has players view the apartment from a top-down perspective as they take control of the husband. Over the course of this 12 minute moment in the couple’s lives, new information comes to light, such as the fact that the wife is pregnant. Whatever else happens, though, a cop always arrives to declare the wife a murder suspect before rushing in and killing her. As the scene ends, the loop resets and the player is sent back to the beginning of the 12 minute period, once more trying to find the truth behind the accusation and save the wife.
With each run through the time loop, the husband remains the only character that retains the information gained from previous attempts at finding a resolution. Thus, having the husband interrogate his wife and listen to her words is key to averting her original fate.
The top down perspective in 12 Minutes lets the player see everything that is happening in the apartment during these 12 minute cycles. This is a great vantage point for the game, as it will allow the player to focus on the characters and limit the possibility of being distracted by the environment.
We have seen blockbuster video games cast major stars like Kit Harrington for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Giancarlo Esposito in the upcoming Far Cry 6, and Norman Reedus in Death Stranding. 12 Minutes looks to match these games in terms of prestige, featuring an outstanding cast to portray its characters.
During Gamescom’s Opening Night Live in 2020, it was revealed that Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy, and Willem Dafoe will be voicing the main characters. Ridley portrays the wife, who allegedly murdered her father several years ago. She communicates with her husband, played by McAvoy, to help him defend her from the cop (Dafoe) and clear her name.
While Daisy Ridley might be best known for her acclaimed role as Rey in the newest Star Wars trilogy, her castmates have shown a great deal of range and talent over the years in film and on television. James McAvoy took over for Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in the X-Men films, and has received numerous awards for his performances. Meanwhile, Willem Dafoe has lent his talents to a large number of films over the years including Spider-Man, Finding Dory, and The Florida Project. Without a doubt, this is an incredible trio of actors who should be more than capable of bringing depth and charisma to their roles here.
Storytellers at Annapurna Interactive
Since their founding in 2016, Annapurna Interactive has been focused on delivering games where the storytelling is central to the experience and compelling to the audience. This likely stems from Annapurna starting out in film production, having put out critically acclaimed films such as Booksmart and Hustlers. When Annapurna Pictures set about establishing their video game division, their aim was to bring the storytelling focus on cinema to the medium of gaming. One only needs to look at Annapurna Interactive’s releases to see that their goal has been accomplished many times over.
Starting with their breakout title What Remains of Edith Finch, this publisher has sought to bring incredible titles to every platform. Released in 2017, What Remains of Edith Finch was an adventure title about discovering and experiencing the eccentric stories of the titular Finch family. The game went on to garner a variety of accolades, including the British Academy’s Award for Best Game and The Game Awards’ Best Narrative award.
Right from the beginning, Annapurna has been intent on finding games that deliver unique and distinctive experiences, which often involves collaborating with some of the most talented designers in the games industry. One such designer is Luis Antonio, the lone developer of 12 Minutes. Before this project, he was an artist working for developers like Rockstar Games and Ubisoft. After concluding work on The Witness, he decided to create his own title that explored the consequences of decision making and how it can affect the characters involved.
Inspired by the likes of The Shining, Memento, and Rear Window, Antonio was able to craft a beautiful story based around a particular couple.
Originally based around a small neighborhood, Antonio felt the story would be more impactful if it were placed in a more constrained setting. Thus, he pivoted the story to focus on the couple’s experiences in their tiny apartment.
While Antonio has been working remotely to develop this game, the past year was difficult for development as he and Annapurna needed to have the voice actors record their lines. Thankfully, Annapurna Interactive were able to find some workable recording studios to allow the three actors to safely record their dialogue.
12 Minutes was originally planned to release in 2020, but will now be released in 2021 for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.