Journey of the Broken Circle
Developer: Lovable Hat Cult
Publisher: Lovable Hat Cult, Nakana.io, Nakana Sp. z o.o.
Genre: Abstract, Platformer
Platforms: Reviewed on PlayStation 4/5 (Also available on IOS, Nintendo Switch and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 12/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
A Mouthful of Emotion
Journey of the Broken Circle is a story about friendship, loss, love and beauty. Most of all though it’s a story about a little circle who likes to stick random things in his mouth. How does he still talk when his mouth is holding a random object? Who knows, all I know is that this game hits some narrative tones that I was perhaps not expecting and perhaps are unheard of for a game of its ilk.
What I mean is, when you first start playing Journey of the Broken Circle, it looks and feels like an ordinary arty, indie platform game. What lies underneath this canvas of pastel shades and eerie music is a tale that will really resonate with what people are feeling right now, in the state the world is in. A tale of loneliness, belonging and the willingness to find friendship.
Pac-Man With Attitude
You play a character who can only be described as Pac-Man with attitude. A circle who is on a quest for companionship, who over the course of the game makes friends, loses friends and meanders through the social structure of the game with wonder. Over the course of the game, you come across light platforming challenges that can only be overcome by putting other characters in your mouth and using them for their abilities. It is a bit like LocoRoco with feelings.
I know, the game sounds abstract, slightly bonkers and a little bit heartwarming. Whether it’s putting a pinecone called ‘Sticky’ into your mouth to climb walls or putting a balloon in your eat-hole to bounce on clouds. Your character is not afraid to slightly ingest characters you meet in a Kirby style manner. It is how the touching story is woven through these new mouth based powers that tie this game’s weird threads together.
Slithers of Humour Between The Sadness
Journey of the Broken Circle is funny in places too. While telling a story of emotion, sometimes it did make me giggle. You need to collect mushroom collectables to get 100% and unlock some bonus levels. There was one point where the level makes you think there is a secret path to a mushroom. You know the sort; “Why does that wall have a slight indent?” kind of thing and when you go through the wall to what normally would be a hidden collectable, your circle chappy would say. “I thought there would definitely be a collectable here too.” Genius.
So we have a basic platformer, a warm, touching story and some weird and wonderful friends with benefits. On top of all that I do like this game’s art style. It has a very quaint, basic look to it. It’s simple, yet attractive and I found it perfectly matched the game’s aesthetics, sound work and story it was telling. I think it was a very shrewd design choice, the graphics never overshadow the story and they just let the narrative and gameplay flow smoothly.
Eerie Sounds, Yet Perfectly Fitting
Music-wise, I really liked some of the soundtrack to Journey of the Broken Circle. It was eerie, don’t get me wrong but some of the accompanying music was apt, beautiful and really amplified the emotions the narrative was trying to tell. I especially liked the music on the cloud level, it really fitted with the gameplay perfectly. The story, sound, graphics and gameplay all tie together quite nicely into a quaint package that is not too long and really quite touching.
The characters have weird voices which are all sound effects that sound like they are actually speaking. You know, like the Sims and such. I do not mind that personally and I did find some of the voice effects quite funny. Like rubber soles on a shiny wooden hall floor. Each character did portray personality, even with no real voice, which is a testament to the weird and wonderful sounds used for each character’s dialogue.
A Nice, Unique, Change of Pace
Overall, while I had never heard of Journey of the Broken Circle, I am definitely glad I had a chance to play it. It may not be big and it may not be flashy but it is a heart-warming tale of friendship, loss and how to deal with the many bumps you will encounter in your life. I feel it is very apt for what we are all going through right now. It is short, sweet and runs very well. I imagine the game will go mostly unnoticed but if you fancy something different and a bit weird, give it a shot. I like weird, not everything has to be normal now, does it?
Rapid Reviews Rating
Soon, you can purchase Journey of the Broken Circle on the PlayStation Store when it releases March 12th.