12 Minutes is a time loop mystery full of little surprises

Willem Dafoe’s face as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man still haunts me. I’ve been scared of Dafoe for going on 20 years, and 12 Minutes is proof that that fear remains strong even when I can’t see his ghoulish grin. And in 12 Minutes, I have good reason: he choked me to death.

That was the first time an aggressive cop, voiced by Dafoe, broke into my apartment and accused my wife of being a killer. It wouldn’t be the last. 12 Minutes is a time loop game, a miniature Groundhog Day mystery that hinges on this break-in and the buried history behind it. Before I played 12 Minutes, I didn’t expect my character to be aware of the time loop—I assumed this was a small game about trying to figure out all the possible ways this encounter could go, tugging on threads until you find the one that unravels the whole thing. But after Dafoe choked my character to death and I jumped back in time, I suddenly had new dialogue options with my wife—honey, you’re not going to believe this…

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