Developer: Kenny Sun
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Puzzle, Music, Platformer
Platform: Xbox Series S (also available on PC, Mac, IOS and Android)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 05/11/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Circa Infinity is a platformer that feels unique yet so familiar at the same time. Each level involves getting to the centre of a circle filled with enemies. Watching the enemies swirl around me was hypnotic, and it stood out from the other platformers in the genre because it focused so heavily on aesthetics. Did their decision pay off? Find out in this Rapid Review.
One of the first things I realized while playing Circa Infinity was how simple the gameplay loop was. Apart from movement, there were two main inputs. I could enter a circular ring by melting into it, and once inside the circle, I could jump. It was immediately apparent how to move my character. This did not mean that controlling my character was easy though. Since I was moving along a circular platform, I had to be conscious of my character’s left and right regardless of where my perspective was. Sometimes I would forget to keep it in mind and die. Even though I would roll my eyes and scoff, I liked the way the circles impacted my player movement and comfortability moving the character. The character moves at a good speed too. Circa Infinity controls nicely.
Circle of Life
Even though the movement was easy to adapt to, the level design was not. Yet, it was not because the game is not designed well. I found that Circa Infinity was complex, even in the simplest levels. I began each level on the outermost ring of a circle. My goal was to delve into the deepest depths of the circle and enter the centre. It was a simple concept, but once enemies and other things get involved, Circa Infinity gets tricky.
Before entering the inside of a circle, I needed to analyze the enemies, evaluate where the entrance was, and then consider how I would reach the centre. In theory, this seems simple, but there were so many things to factor in. Sometimes the circle would be spinning, other times enemies had patterns to follow, and then at one point, some enemies were colour-coded, and dealt damage based on what colour they were. It was a lot to focus on. Yet, it was what made Circa Infinity so interesting.
No More Leniency
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that it took so long to evaluate before entering each circle is that many of the enemies look very similar. They are all the same colour, and especially when acting quickly, it is hard to tell which enemies are present. Thus, in between each ring, I would evaluate what was coming up. Largely, this strategy worked. However, as the game got more challenging, I faced enemies that could hurt me while in this outer ring, forcing me to quickly scan for those enemies before evaluating my next steps. Circa Infinity focuses on this frantic gameplay and always required me to focus.
Even though there were a lot of tough moments in the game, Circa Infinity has a lot of features that prevent it from getting overwhelmingly frustrating. Primarily, upon death, I was not sent back to the beginning of the level. Instead, I got expelled from the ring I was in and went up to the previous level. In practice, it was seamless, and it kept me from getting frustrated. However, sometimes, I got in a rut, and kept dying, even on levels I completed before. The developers included buffer zones that prevented me from going too far back. Typically, these were empty spheres where I could not die. These were vital to my success in the game, and getting one gave me the same security that a checkpoint does in typical platformers. Circa Infinity was difficult but the game was still accessible.
Circle Gets a Square
Though the game was already challenging, Circa Infinity has additional tricks that keep the game refreshing and challenging. Around halfway through the game, the main character meets their foil. They oppose each other in nearly every way. Initially, they simply move in the opposite direction of each other, but then each character changes colour, granting them access to certain exits, and prohibiting the entry of others. It kept the game interesting plus, it added one more thing to focus on. It also started establishing alternate dimensions in the game. Mastering the two characters became vital to progression and gave Circa Infinity a stronger identity.
Circa Infinity features boss fights to further supplement the title too. Considering the simple nature of the movement and controls, I was pleasantly surprised by how dynamic these altercations were. Each one felt unique, yet they were easy to understand and fit the character movement perfectly. I was very impressed. These were a highlight of the game.
Unfortunately, the penultimate boss fight had some issues when I played it. The boss was invisible most times I played the level. It was remedied a few attempts later, but it was shocking to play the level when he was not visible. Otherwise, the game performed perfectly.
The game also looked good. I liked the bold and bright colours of the enemies and how they contrasted with the minimalist backgrounds. However, as I mentioned previously, it was challenging to recognize enemies quickly since many looked similar. The music was also quite good. It was loud, and in my face, but it worked to contrast the minimalist art style. This was not something I would listen to normally, but it worked well here. There were not any story elements, but the game does not need them. It was solely focused on the gameplay with an emphasis on the hypnotic effects it may have.
Overall, I thought Circa Infinity was fun. It was not my favourite platforming experience of the year since it required that I slow down before each ring of the circle to recognize which enemies were present, but the game is fair and rewarding too. There is no meaningful story, and though the ambience is nice, I did not think it made the game. The game is good for featuring simple platforming with an innovative twist.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Circa Infinity on the Microsoft store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.