South of the Circle
Developer: State of Play
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Genre(s): Adventure, Point and Click, Narrative,
Platform: PS 4 and 5, Xbox one and XS, Stean, GOG, Apple Arcade
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 03/08/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
At the world’s most southern point, wrapped around the south pole, you will find Antarctica. Also known as the world’s fifth-largest continent. It may not be the biggest, but it is most certainly the coldest in the world. You wouldn’t think that a land mass being 98% of thick ice, would hold many tales that are worth telling. However, developer State of Play has taken this beautiful blank snowy canvas and created one of the greatest stories of 2022.
South of the Circle is available on all platforms to play, and this week, Rapid Reviews took an exploration around Antarctica via the Nintendo Switch. I hope you enjoy this review as much as I enjoyed playing this game.
Thrown in the deep end
South of the Circle is a story told through the eyes of your main protagonist, Peter. You witness Peter create his life through the decisions he adheres to and any experiences that shape him. The main story behind the game is that this young Cambridge professor must choose between love and his career in order to progress to the big world and make a name for himself. However, the slight issue of an Antarctic snowstorm causes some delay, and as the fight for survival in a broken-down plane begins, you are told tales of his life through flashbacks.
Right from the very start, the game introduces you to the style in which you play. The minimalistic style menu and opening scenes establish the ground rules for this quaint game. As it begins, you immediately catch two distressed characters, with their broken-down plane. Peter and his fellow pilot. The game revolves around you making choices throughout, and a conversation between the two characters establishes that your role is to make Peters’s decisions. How you choose for him to lead his life, through these small moments, results in a forceful outcome.
Smooth and simple cinematics
Being a smaller indie game, you tend to expect a bit more with the style of graphics used. There is more pressure on the smaller developers within the indie market to create a unique elegantly visual story. State of Play, and publisher, 11 Bit Studios have outdone themselves. The style of graphics used, isn’t that commonly thrown around. To be honest, I’m unsure why, as this simple yet delicate style allows for stunning backdrops to be created. This game highlights that you don’t need detail on faces or items in order to understand the importance of something.
While driving along the Antarctic landscapes, and exploring empty bases, I admired the scenery and cute soundscapes. The reason why people enjoy playing games is to escape. Escapism is so important in a world where everything is going fast. So with South of the Circle enabling the gamer to submerge themselves in this storyline, with just the role of making choices, it shows that this game is an overwhelmingly immersive adventure into the snowy south of this unexplored realm.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
I want to divert a little here, and talk about a similar game I experienced called “Before Your Eyes” (You can read find our existing review of the game here!). This game opened my world to the style of decision-making gaming. A style whereby the gamer makes certain choices on behalf of the main character, but these decisions can lead to different outcomes. Games like this are quite simple, your entire role is to make a choice, but yet these games create an essence of thrill. Deciding whether to sit or stand in a lecture can decide the type of person you are, which eventually leads to moral dilemmas. Before your Eyes did an outstanding job of doing this, and I never thought another game would even come close. But here we are, a few weeks after finishing South of the Circle, and I am still as excited as I was the day I finished the game.
The decisions play a key role in the character you create and I love how the game brings them all together as Peters’s story is told.
Pack your bags and let’s go
I want to keep this review short and sweet. The longer I blabber on, the less time you have to play the game. South of the Circle is absolutely incredible. It is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the snowy stretch of the Antarctic wilderness. No story is alike, and after playing the game, I feel like I have fully experienced Peter as being part of my life. Like a long-lost family member finally being able to tell his story.
It is a game with emotional depth and striking illustration, and I urge you to be part of the story.
Rapid Reviews Rating
5 out of 5
You can buy the game on Nintendo here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.