Normally if a game attacks my senses enough to make me feel a little lightheaded after some time with a controller in hand, you’d find me condemning it to an uninstall and recommending it never be purchased by a soul. Circa Infinity is a rare occasion in which I’ll be recommending the opposite. I’m not sure I even understand why, but it has to be said, this is a minimalist experience that brings a heap of enjoyment.
Circa Infinity is the latest game from indie developer Kenny Sun and publisher RedDeer Games, the studio that is gaining a bit of name for their games which provide interesting artistic design already and this is another one that fits their profile perfectly. The game is quite simply a platforming experience in which you take control of an individual seemingly stuck within a collection of black and white circles. To escape you must progress to the most-inner infinite circle by way of jumping through each layer, all whilst avoiding the influx of enemies that appear to halt your progress.
From the outside, gameplay is quite simply running around the circumference of a circle and jumping at the appropriate time, and I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound catchy enough for even an often-happy spender such as myself to buy the latest game, but Circa Infinity is somehow much more than that whilst also being exactly that. You see, the excitement of such a simple task comes from the skill and precision that is required to achieve it. There is no narrative to follow, instead, you’re key focus comes down to perfecting the flawless timing and precise movements required to progress.
What makes the timing and precision such a focus is that whilst the overall task is to progress through each layer, the only way to move up to the next one is through a specific angled section of each circle and should you not quite make the jump then you’ll be left reeling on the previous layer with any creatures that are currently running amok within it, with even a slight collision sending you back to the previous layer.
This isn’t an issue if you can be patient enough and learn the method required for each individual level, but with a timer that shows just how long you’ve taken, a death counter and the majority of the game’s achievements list tied to speed and a lack of deaths, it doesn’t take long for the scrutinising pressure of the required perfection to kick in.
Of course, should you just want to blast through to the end then working your way through the 5 increasingly difficult worlds and 10 levels within each shouldn’t be quite as much of a hassle, but even with a casual playthrough later levels do begin to ramp up the difficulty somewhat and you can still find your patience tested as you look to perfect a seemingly impossible level only to feel a sudden satisfaction as muscle memory helps push you to the finish.
Whilst the general objective is simplistic on paper, what further paints the misconception of a basic game is the minimalist visual experience with each circle either black or white and a pixelated art style ensuring there is no attention to vast detail required. The blend of such sharp and opposite colour choices certainly does no favours for the eyes should you have spent more than 30 minutes or so attempting to finish it off, but then that may well be part of the charm of this brain-twisting adventure. Either way, you’ll want to enjoy this game over multiple gaming sessions.
Another memorable feature of the game comes courtesy of the soundtrack with the thumping rhythm pulling you along nicely. I was often found trying to match my movements to the soundtrack in a bid to see if that would help me through the more difficult levels. With the soundtrack not quite proving as fast as gameplay this turned out to be a bad choice, however, the relaxing and soothing soundtrack has just enough of a beat to keep you nodding along without feeling too repetitive, it’s essentially fantastic background music.
Sadly, once you’ve masterfully pushed your way through the different worlds, which should take no more than a few hours, depending on skill level, you are done with everything Circa Infinity has to offer. As mentioned earlier, the achievement list is a fantastic tool to add a little flair and additional challenge to your playthrough and going back for them certainly adds new excitement but even if that’s not something you wish to entertain, Circa Infinity, whilst basic in almost every area does a fantastic job of squeezing every ounce of gameplay and action out of some of the simplest ideas and it creates one of the most unique platformers available on console right now that I for one certainly hope to see more of in the next few years.
Overall, if you want something that can be finished off over an evening or two and don’t mind challenging yourself, Circa Infinity is a fantastic choice to go with. It’s fairly cheap, it’s challenging and it’s going to ensure you’re getting something different than the blockbusters currently saturating the release window at this time of year. More of this, please!Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.