Hands-on with 12 Minutes: A new time-loop thriller video game with a star-studded cast coming soon

Twelve Minutes is a new game from Annapurna Interactive starring Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe.

Annapurna Interactive

12 Minutes, a dark thriller game featuring the voice acting of Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), James McAvoy (X-Men ) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, 2002), is coming soon. The new interactive game from Annapurna Interactive — coming first to Xbox and Steam for PC — tells the story of a couple’s life turned upside down by a violent home invasion. We’ve been waiting on this one for a long time: It was first spotted at Pax East 2015, and again at E3 2019.

The game kicks off during what should’ve been a romantic date night, when a man breaks into your home, accuses your wife of murder and kills you. Seconds later, you find yourself at the exact moment before you opened the door, about to relive the horrific 12 minutes again. And again. You realize you must gather clues and information to change the night’s outcome and break out of the loop.

Check out the trailer here:

Ahead of the game’s launch, 12 Minutes creative director Luis Antonio talked to CNET about the upcoming game and gave me a hands-on demo. 

As a fan of point-and-click mystery games, 12 Minutes immediately caught my attention. From the start, the game stands apart with a distinct, minimalist design. The whole game takes place in the couple’s small apartment, and the player has a bird’s-eye view of all the action thanks to the developer’s top-down style. After learning the controls for movement and interaction with items and the environment, it was easy to dive into the story. 

After the break-in leading to your murder, the scene resets, but your character retains the memory of everything that happened. Meanwhile, your wife, who doesn’t remember what happened, is eerily calm, in sharp contrast to your panic and confusion. As a player, I immediately felt the weight of the ticking clock and the desperation to get my wife to believe me and find something in the apartment to help fight back before the next break-in. 


When the time loop resets, what will you do differently to solve the mystery and survive?

Annapurna Interactive

Antonio said that the idea of accumulated knowledge is key in 12 Minutes.

“If you know what’s going to happen, what are you going to do about it?” he said. The game design plays off how when a character dies in a traditional video game, they’re sent back to the start of a level — or the last save point — to get another shot. But in most of those games, the characters don’t remember their death or errors.

“What’s interesting for me is the other side of knowledge about other people and situations and how we interpret those situations,” Antonio said. “All these things are happening and the game isn’t really telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing, so you can interpret what’s happening. There’s clearly something for you to react to as you learn more.” 

While Antonio took a minimalist design approach, the characters and story are far more complex. As a player, the development team succeeded in creating characters I invested in. As the events unfolded, I couldn’t help but wonder what the future held for the couple. What if the wife did commit murder? Would the marriage survive such an explosive revelation? 

The game’s star-studded cast also faced the challenge of expressing a wide range of emotions without the aid of the character’s facial expressions, as the game is presented in the top-down style. Antonio said the game’s script was extensive, so Dafoe, McAvoy and Ridley had to learn their characters thoroughly while respecting the needs of the game. 


Even if you survive the break in, dark secrets may tear you apart. 

Annapurna Interactive

“They’re so good,” Antonio said of the cast. “They brought this dimension, because you have to care about the characters for this to work.”

Even though 12 Minutes is a mystery thriller, Antonio wanted to make the game accessible as well as thought-provoking for players, noting indie games like Papers, Please and Florence as inspirations. 

“I think it’s time that this industry grows out of shooting, killing, points and scoring,” Antonio said. “It’s great to have that, but [the industry] needs to grow in other directions like the other mediums have done.” 

More new games to watch out for

12 Minutes isn’t the only game from Annapurna we have to look forward to in the near future. Nintendo Direct announced Hindsight from Joel McDonald and Last Stop from Variable State. Last Stop will launch in July on Nintendo Switch, Steam, PS4, PS5. Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. Hindsight will launch for Steam, Nintendo Switch and in the App Store.

Last Stop


Last Stop is coming in July.

Annapurna Interactive

During a supernatural crisis, the lives of three Londoners become intertwined in this single-player third person adventure game. You can play as all three characters in the choice-based game. 

Donna is a high schooler, eager to get out on her own and find some excitement. Her life takes a dangerous turn when thrill seeking with friends goes too far. John is an overworked dad who misses the carefree bachelor days his neighbor is enjoying. When John comes to possess a cursed artifact, his life is turned upside down. Finally, Meena is struggling to find the same satisfaction in her family that she finds in her work life. When she begins to compete with a coworker for a promotion, something strange awakens in the basement of her workplace. 



Hindsight is a new game coming soon.

Annapurna Interactive

Hindsight is a single-player narrative exploration game that examines a woman’s life from birth to present day through everyday objects. You’ll revisit her childhood home, parse through personal belongings and get a look at the attached memories. The game asks the player to slow down and examine details. 

The goal is to piece together memories, examine all perspectives and delve deeper into your past. As you progress, you may even get a glimpse of possible futures. 

“Linger as long as you wish, but sooner or later you must come back to the present,” Annapurna Interactive says of the game on its website. “What will you take with you? What will you leave behind?”  

The game looks like an emotional journey in the vein of Possessions (Noodlecake and Lucid Labs) on Apple Arcade and Maquette from Graceful Decay.

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