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Review: Circa Infinity

Circa Infinity is a trip, as the game is about as simple as
it gets. There are three buttons, mostly three colors, and every level
is just a circle.
But as you start to dig deeper, and the mechanics evolve, Circa Infinity reveals itself as a brilliant puzzle platformer.

Circa Infinity (Mac, PC [reviewed])
Developer: Kenny Sun
Publisher: Kenny Sun
Released: September 9, 2015
MSRP: $9.99

The game is so simple there’s no tutorial. You play as two nameless
characters who must traverse through a seemingly endless corridor of
black and white circles while avoiding any red demons that cross their
path. The whole aesthetic can be summed up by the question “What if they
made a game based on the animation that plays when you enter the TV
world in Persona 4?” You can move the character left and right,
and hit the action button to either dip down or jump up, depending on
what color circle you are in.

Infinity consists of 50 levels split up into five sections.
These all do a great job of slowly introducing new mechanics and folding
them back into existing challenges. Each section feels distinct, not
dissimilar to Braid. The earliest levels teach you the basics
of how to dodge enemies, then section two introduces challenges like
enemies that will only move when you do.

Sections end with boss fights, which do a great job of wrapping up
the lesson of each stage while supplying a completely new gameplay
experience. These are the only areas that feel like having a bit of a
tutorial might be good, but you can still manage to figure out their
secrets without too much worry. The game also features a speedrun mode
for those who want to master the stages.

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As you would expect, things get incredibly difficult. The hardest part of Circa Infinity
is keeping track of which direction you are moving in since left and
right don’t really mean anything when you’re running around a circle.
This doesn’t help that the game itself may make you dizzy. You die if
you touch an enemy, but it only sends you back one circle. It’s very
easy to get frustrated and get sent back several circles, but there are
also checkpoints before particularly hard sequences. Outside of a few
boss moments, it never feels unfair.

The music fits well. It keeps you in a trance-like state. Each
section features a different song, as well as unique boss music. The
main problem with the soundtrack is that it loops fairly often, which
can add to the exhaustion if you’re having trouble with a particular
level and are spending upwards of an hour on a section.

If you can get past the fact that this is another indie puzzle platformer with a simplistic art style, Circa Infinity is well worth the cost. Brilliant level design and a great aesthetic keep the game fresh from start to finish.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Ascendant (PC, PS4 [reviewed])
Developer: Hapa Games
Publisher: Hapa Games
Release Date: May 13, 2014 (PC) / September 8, 2015 (PS4)
MSRP: $9.99
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