Like Bill Murray's character in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, when video game protagonists die or fail to complete certain objectives, they are forced to relive those moments over and over again. Usually, however, game characters aren’t aware of the time-loops in which they become stuck. But what if they did know? What effect would it have on both the character in question and on the gameplay of which they are a part?
These are the questions behind the upcoming point-and-click adventure Twelve Minutes, currently in development by former Rockstar Games artist Luis Antonio. The plot is a murder mystery which plays out over twelve (or fewer) real-world minutes, and it will be the player's job to figure out what happened between the protagonist's wife and her father, whom she is arrested for killing, before time loops back on itself. You will accomplish this task by using information gleaned in each playthrough in order to move forward, reacting appropriately to foreknowledge of upcoming events.
The entire game will take place in three rooms of the couple's home, namely the kitchen / living room, bedroom, and bathroom, and will be played from an unusual top-down perspective, a choice that Antonio believes will improve accessibility for people who don't normally play games. Because you are not given specific goals to complete aside from the overarching mystery, Antonio plans for the repetitive nature of the premise to be offset by the player's incremental knowledge of the situation, hopefully making subsequent playthroughs quicker and less repetitive, bolstered by the limited number of locations to explore. This approach also allows for more sandbox-style gameplay, where players could, in fact, completely ignore the main mystery and simply experiment with what the environment has to offer.
Twelve Minutes is tentatively set for release by December 2015, though this date is subject to change as Antonio is developing the game in his spare time while he collaborates with Jonathan Blow on his upcoming project, The Witness. For more information in the meantime, visit the game's official website.