7 Games Like 12 Minutes

Image credit: Annapurna Interactive

One of the most interesting types of stories, games, and stories in games are those that create a world with a set of interesting rules — and then let you experience the butterfly effect that emerges from your interaction with those rules.

12 Minutes is an excellent example of that. On its surface, it’s a rather traditional (but wonderfully interactive) point-and-click adventure game with a thrilling story. Or, rather, it would be if not for its core mechanic: the game is set in a 12-minute-long Groundhog Day scenario, from which it gets its name.

It’s a wonderful mystery to explore — but it’s also a linear narrative with a clear beginning and end. So, it’s not very replayable; soon enough, you’ll start looking for other games like 12 Minutes to fill that interactive-thriller gap. And luckily for you, we’ve got a bunch of excellent suggestions right here!

Outer Wilds

Our first suggestion is the closest to 12 Minutes in terms of its central time loop mechanic — and it’s also the most recent entry into this niche of adventure games, one which has garnered considerable popular and critical acclaim.

However, while the central theme is somewhat similar — you’ll find that the scale of Outer Wilds couldn’t be more different than 12 minutes. While 12 minutes sees you repeating its time loop in a small, one-bedroom apartment, Outer Wilds lets you loose in an entire solar system.

And if you thought that the time loop of Outer Wilds was much longer, think again — you’ve only got 22 minutes. After that, the sun of the game’s solar system will go supernova, and the loop will reset.

As you play the role of an astronaut explorer, you’ll find that you learn and retain some new knowledge about the supernova each time you go through the loop. Naturally, the goal of the game is to use this knowledge to stop the apocalyptic event and end the loop.

It’s an incredible open-world adventure combined with the hindrances of a linear time loop. It was also published by the same folks who were the publishers of 12 minutes — Annapurna Interactive. Slowly but surely, they’re creating an impressive roster of innovative and quirky adventure games with an indie sensibility; we can’t wait to see what they do next.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Looking for a timeless classic that’s more emotional and philosophical than any other game in its series while delving deeply into humanity’s complex nature and our reactions to grief, dread, and crisis?

In that case, we recommend checking out The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It’s not a new game by any means — it was first released in 2000 on the now-ancient Nintendo 64. However, it’s definitely worth playing, even today. And you won’t have to get an old console to do that — you can play it as a part of Nintendo Switch’s online catalog.

So, what is the game about? As is customary for a Zelda game, you’re stepping into the shoes of the famous Link once more — but this time, you’re going on a journey the likes of which our hero has never experienced before.

Among time-loop games, Majora’s Mask was certainly a trailblazer. Right after the Ocarina of Time, this sequel sees Link on Termina — a world parallel to Hyrule. However, Link’s not there on vacation — Termina is in big trouble, as its moon is set to collide with the planet in just three days.

This time around, Link will experience countless versions of those three days to set things right and avoid Termina’s apocalypse. And without spoiling anything — the game makes repeatedly awesome use of the time-loop mechanic.

Last Stop

Yep, our next pick is yet another Annapurna Interactive game — though, for a change, Last Stop doesn’t focus on a time loop. However, it’s still got a ton of elements that make it similar to games like 12 minutes.

So, what is the game about? Without venturing too far into spoiler territory, suffice it to say that you’re following four different characters who embark on a thoroughly supernatural adventure. The game tried to convey the contrast between ordinary people and utterly extraordinary events that happen to them.

It’s set in a supernatural version of London, offering an intriguing mix of the fantastic and the mundane. Your characters will go from sipping a cup of tea to stumbling through a magical dimension-hopping portal fairly quickly throughout the game.

However, while many games manage to bring a sense of awe to the table, few have succeeded in depicting Britain so authentically in a videogame — the understated and realistic environments make the magical stuff even more uncanny.

Of course, as most games like 12 Minutes are, Last Stop is a narrative-driven, tightly scripted experience. Even in the context of point-and-click adventures, the interactive element of the game is quite limited. The scenes are heavily choreographed, and most of the player agency is expressed through conversations.

In many ways, the game might have been better off as an animated movie — but the same could be said for the Walking Dead games by Telltale, which also turn out to be more than the sum of their parts.

Deathloop

Ah, Deathloop — or, as its developers call it, DEATHLOOP. It’s the latest action-adventure title made by the extremely talented folks at Arkane Studios (of Dishonored and Prey fame).

And this game definitely evokes Dishonored in some ways — you’re playing an assassin named Colt, which may remind you of the time you played an assassin named Corvo in Arkane’s most famous franchise.

However, this time around, you’re in the real world — or at least a version of it. The game takes place in the 1960s, allowing some fairly refreshing and colorful stylistic choices. But it’s not all fun and games; as the game begins, you wake up on the beaches of an island called Blackreef.

The island, all of its residents, and now, you, are stuck in a 24-hour-long timeloop. However, there’s a catch — while everyone else retains no memories from the previous days, you do. And this knowledge will come in handy as you attempt to kill all of your eight targets over the span of a single day.

If this sounds relatively easy, trust us — it isn’t. Especially because there’s another assassin on the island: Juliana, who believes you need to die for the island to be protected. And she’ll definitely do her best to thwart you.

This is also where the game is most imaginative: there’s a central (but optional) multiplayer feature seamlessly integrated with your singleplayer experience. If you keep it on, other players randomly enter your game and take on the mantle of Jules — proceeding to interfere with your assassination plans on the island.

It makes the game far more interesting, and the challenge far more unpredictable throughout the game.

The Room Series

Don’t worry, this isn’t a movie tie-in game for the worst film of all time — on the contrary, it’s one of the finest pure puzzle games that have blessed our screens in years. It’s not a new game by any stretch of the imagination — being almost a decade old — but it has since become a cult classic.

The main reason is its strong focus on puzzles and incredibly intricate puzzle design — all in a single location. It’s extremely light on plot, making it so popular among puzzle gaming fans. It also has a sequel (appropriately called The Room Two) that came out a year later, with a bunch more great puzzles.

However, it also came with some adventure elements that slowly started creeping into the pure puzzling experience of its predecessor. If you’re a fan of that approach, we recommend the third game in the series — yes, it’s called The Room Three — because it has more exploration and a deeper plot.

On the other hand, if you’re purely here for the puzzles — we recommend starting with the first game in the series. It’s a classic escape room premise that sees you start in a darkened room, armed only with a lamp — that illuminates the mysterious box that starts your puzzling adventure.

Throughout the game, your main task will be to solve an increasingly difficult series of puzzles to unlock the box’s mysteries. And while the first game was originally developed for mobile devices, it’s worth mentioning that the PC port is excellent — the click-based controls are a great replacement for the swipes and gestures on touchscreens.

The Forgotten City

Here’s another mystery adventure game — one that started its journey as an unusually conversation-based Skyrim mod. A couple of years later, it garnered enough popularity for a standalone release, for a good reason.

The Forgotten City sees you reliving the last days of a magically cursed Roman city. And the curse is an unusual one: if even a single denizen of a city sins, all of them will instantly die. As you can imagine, the macabre premise produces a variety of bewildering locations and characters.

As you interact with them, you’ll need to use your deductive skills to unravel the city’s mysteries, piece by piece — and hopefully save it from its present predicament.

While there is some combat to be found within the game, it’s far from The Forgotten City’s biggest selling point. The gist of the gameplay is found in the conversations with members of the city’s community — you’ll need to carefully extract enough information from them to make the right decisions as the game’s narrative junctures.

Each time the city “dies”, its time loop restarts itself. And as the outsider, you’re the only one who retains information from one loop to the next. This knowledge will help you make increasingly difficult moral choices on your way to the end of the story.

In pure gameplay terms, you’ll find the city an open-world location worth exploring — there’s historically authentic Roman architecture, art, customs, and costumes. And the narrative is largely non-linear and open-ended, allowing for tons of replayability. Depending on how you approach the game, there are quite a few different endings.

Genesis Noir

Our final pick is yet another narrative-driven puzzler — Genesis Noir. The game is a stylish, time-traveling mystery, which you’ll have to solve to save your significant other. Over the course of the narrative, you’ll visit different events in world history; all in a bid to, of all things, stop the universe from expanding.

Yes, it’s just as existential and bizarre as it sounds. However, at its heart, Genesis Noir is a rather simple game where your main goal is to change things in the hope of saving your relationship, something most of us can relate to.

Your player character is as unusual as the premise — you’re No Man, a powerful cosmic being that’s hopelessly in love with his counterpart, Miss Mass. The Big Bang separates you for good, and you’re trying to go through time and stop it from happening in the first place.

Of course, this takes you on a wild trek through the history (and birth) of mankind. And beyond that, you’ll witness the game’s rendering of the pivotal moments in the history of the cosmos — from a future that’s trillions of years away to the first milliseconds in the existence of Life.

Crucially, Genesis Noir lets you explore all of these moments in your preferred order — but all of them contain clues on stopping the Big Bang, and you’ll have to put them all together to achieve your goal.

The art style is minimalistic and gorgeous — reminding more of an artist’s sketchbook than a game. All in all, it’s a truly unforgettable experience, and a definite recommendation.

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