Twelve Minutes Is A Gross, Purposeless Journey

Time loops are an underutilized concept in video games. There are miniature examples of unintentional time loops everywhere; nearly every failure state sends players hurtling backward through time to the beginning of a level or encounter. The purposeful, plot-relevant looping of time is left to Bill Murray and muscular men named after rock stars.

brings the restarting day to the world of video games, and it brings some really weird shit with it.

is a solid attempt at an enticing time-turner that actually manages to craft a really fun gameplay loop. The player character is locked into a loop that lasts twelve minutes (wow!). The loop resets when time runs out, or the main character finds himself close to the sweet embrace of death. The loop itself is easily the best and most interesting part of the game. There are a myriad of different objects and knick-knacks that can be used to solve puzzles or gain more information about the other characters. While it's easy to forget exactly which puzzle levers you’ve pulled, the game does a good enough job of giving you incredibly vague breadcrumbs that lead to nuggets of plot development.

Things were going great with the game until it showed what it was really about, and whoo boy…

The game’s main focus is a disgusting pseudo-intellectual essay on “letting go” that delves into the weirdest shit.

Image courtesy of WIRED

The game’s focus on intense personal relationships and their dynamics completely fall flat. It has the classic problem of making its main characters unlikeable pieces of shit. James McAvoy (the characters don’t have actual names outside of a vague “dad” or “wife”) is absolutely awful to his wife Daisy Ridley. Daisy Ridley constantly lies and belittles James’s concerns and problems. Willem Dafoe is overly aggressive and doesn’t even have a Death Note in this one, so what’s the fuckin’ point dude? This trio of unadulterated shitbags are the subject of 90% of the dialogue and “character development.” The unlikeableness makes solving some puzzles incredibly frustrating. I remember finally convincing DaisyWife to believe that I was stuck in a time loop; hell yeah! I confronted her about killing her father and asking about her dad’s pocket watch, saying that not only did I already know that about both of these things, but that I had actively even seen them in person at one point and could prove it. DaisyWife did what she does for the majority of her dialogue: get mad, refuse to say anything worthwhile, and storm off into another room. A lot of the character interactions are just as frustrating and laced with what essentially amounts to the creator of the game saying “lol you didn’t do this puzzle right idiot, try again.”

The story cannot save it. It makes things even worse. This is your warning; delves into some disgusting subject matter, and it doesn’t do it well either.

Well… here goes.

So James McAvoy is stuck in this time loop, right? Being stuck in a loop is great for gathering information, so Mr. McAvoy says screw it, why not? Through his super-sleuthing, he uncovers the many plot twists that were in store for him:

He murdered his wife’s dad.

Also, his wife’s dad is his dad.

Also, his wife is pregnant.

They have an incest baby.

Yes, the pivotal moment, the climax of the game’s twists and turns, the very thing the entirety of the story leads up to…

… is incest.

I wish I could say it was done well or with nuance, but it wasn’t.


Image courtesy of Polygon

tries to make a tale of incestual relationships and psychotic memory-based breakdowns into something thought-provoking but utterly fails in every single way. You’re supposed to care about the plight of James McAvoy and his “oopsie whoopsie” moment of forgetfulness that leads him to marry and IMPREGNATE HIS SISTER, but you're given absolutely no reason to. He’s irredeemable as a character. At best, he drugs his wife to interrogate and stab a cop for information on her past, and at worst he repeatedly kills the other two main characters and with every loop. Generic Man’s personality is only elaborated on through the lens of what the player does in-game, and holy shit, he’s kind of a bad dude. In every sane story, you’re not supposed to root for an incestual, murderous, lying, manipulative, and timeline manipulating shitbag, but tries to evoke feelings of empathy from the player towards poor ol’ James’s familial issues. It fails horribly in that area. You can’t feel empathetic towards a guy who fucked his own sister, and proceeds to have an “oh, did I do that?” moment in which he suddenly remembers the problem due to some time shenanigans.

Murder is just part of the game bro. Image courtesy of Rock Paper Shotgun

That felt insane to type out, but it is the actual game.

There’s an attempt at intellectual commentary on top of the incestual babymaking and spoiler alert; it does about as well as the incest subplot. One of the major plot revelations that you get slapped in the face with reveals the true nature of the third main character, Willem Dafoe. As it turns out, this cop isn’t actually real; he’s a weird psycho-manifestation of the husband’s dad and his guilt over… forgetting he did an incest?

This is where the game creeps into the dreaded “look at how smart I am” territory. The dad-cop brings you into some sort of book-filled mind-palace-but-actually-in-the-past-but-not room and starts to fly off the handle. At this point, you have two options: say “nah, incest is cool actually. She doesn’t have to know.” or give up on your wife and just forget everything again. The game tries to prop these up as major, life-defining choices with multiple implications towards the present and the future, but why does literally anything matter when every option leads to repressing your stupidity again? These choices may have actually felt important to make if I could bring myself to give a singular shit about the characters. The pisspoor character development and the general unlikeableness of the pair deflates the importance of choosing how the game ends.

Image courtesy of Crazy Gadgets Here

It also doesn’t help that the choices don’t matter; you’re thrown back into the loop anyways.

The endings suck by the way.

I finally got one of the “true” endings once I consulted a guide, and of course, it revolves around an overly thoughtful quote from a book on mediation. If you click your wife enough while she’s reading, she’ll tell you a quote from the book she’s reading about letting things go or mindfulness or some other bullshit that my brain completely glazed over because I was mentally checked out of the game at this point. This is where the fun begins.

Once you enter the book-palace with good ol’ dad again, you can click on the book to tell the dad how good you are at reading. Dad perks up with glee upon hearing this, and gives off some serious neckbeard vibes with an “Ah, I see you too, read intelligent literature.” line. Now that dad knows you’re a fellow intellectual, he decides to help you instead of strangling you to death repeatedly. He practices a mindful “oopsie forgettie wettie!!!” technique with you and the game ends. There are 6 total endings to get, but I didn’t get them because I could not continue after seeing how inconsequential and pointless the first two I got were.

The only thing the game truly teaches you is that none of the shit you do matters at all. You either forget everything you did and end up alone or you… forget everything you did and end up alone, but this time you do so as an annoying, well-read idiot.

The game creeps into goofy territory in some scenes, and… while hilarious, ultimately detracts from the experience.

Choices in video games are supposed to be hard to make and feel consequential. makes every choice feel like an exercise in futility and frustration. A choice has to have some sort of emotional gravitas or some sort of gameplay benefit to affect the player on an emotional level, and provides neither. It actually provides nothing. It makes no attempt to build up these characters outside of one empathetic notion of the psycho-manifestation of dad killing this couple to pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment.

Now that I think about it, what the fuck was that about? They just drop it and never mention it again. Who even was his daughter? Another psycho-manifestation? What the fuck is this game? Lmao?

The husband and wife are insufferable towards each other and have next to no development as characters themselves. This made my final choice easy; end this bullshit with the loop so I can get the hell out of this game.

image courtesy of GamesRadar

I wanted to like for what it was, but what it is grosses me the hell out. I really did try, but I couldn't bring myself to feel empathy towards any party that was involved in this circus of stupidity. It was absolutely infuriating to call the game’s main plot twist (brother-child yeehaw) and expect some sort of thoughtful or meaningful explanation, but instead I got an “lol I forgot.” I think I would’ve enjoyed any other explanation more than the classic cop-out amnesia trope. Maybe the husband really is a piece of shit and just didn't mention it out of selfishness, or the wife even and pretended she didn’t because of love or something. Literally any plot revelation is better than a MacGuffin-esque bout of amnesia.

had so many directions it could go, and it chose incest time travel.

Incest time travel is where I check out of anything, forever.



Video game enthusiast tasked with the eternal struggle of not ranting about Metal Gear Solid 3. Streamer, writer, video editor, and Twitter gremlin.

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Video game enthusiast tasked with the eternal struggle of not ranting about Metal Gear Solid 3. Streamer, writer, video editor, and Twitter gremlin.