There are tons of puzzle games on the Steam platform and thousands more on itch.io probably, but only a few of those manage to capture the complete essence of what a good puzzle game should be. Now and then we stumble upon one of those and we end up getting hooked, playing it over and over again, trying to understand its simple yet made complex through level design mechanics and we eat up our evening hours staring at little circles and squares making methodical movements, trying to make them see sense.
Circles is simply one of those games and I shall explain to you why.
First and most important is the fact that just like most good games of its kind, there’s a free demo that you can try out yourself instead of reading my mumbled words. Trying to explain why a puzzle game is good will always fall short compared to being able to try the experience yourself. You can find the demo here if you are interested. If you wish to continue reading the review though (or you are just done with the demo and you want to see what more there is to it) then let’s dig deeper into the world of Circles.
Made by the Dutch indie developer Jeroen Wimmers as a solo development effort, Circles boasts about 90 levels of mesmerizing and logical puzzles that involve circles. Even the thing you control yourself is a circle and you are basically always trying to get from point A to point B. Sounds simple, but in order to achieve that, you need to understand in what ways the circles work around you. Do they move when you make a certain movement yourself? Do they have some kind of specific movement pattern? All these things come into play and make the game ever so interesting, level after level, mechanic after mechanic.
For those feeling extra awesome and smart, there are extra challenges, as with any other good puzzle game that respects itself and wants to provide an extremely hard challenge for the boldest of players.
I have said it in the past and I will say it again. The most successful games for me, are the ones that you jump into as a player and you are already experiencing something. Learning, understanding and completing is your constant goal when you pick up a control or the mouse and keyboard. In the case of games, as an interactive experience, it’s always great to find a game that teaches you how to play it by allowing you to go through various levels that teach you those things. Very much like a tutorial, but those are real levels, without words, without pointers. You make mistakes and you learn. The more you play the game, the more you get used to this feeling that you start speeding up through levels in the same way, feeling as if you have acquired some sort of skillset that others don’t have.
You have this game in your hands and you are mastering it while at the same time having tons of fun. What is honestly better than that?
The game of course does not limit itself to its levels. In Circles we can replay any of those levels with one of four different and unique playstyles. At first, they feel like a handicap, since they are fundamentally harder than the first mode, but once you play around with them, you realize that they introduce something different and at the same time very interesting for the game. It’s an approach that was needed in order to give the content more extended life and future replayability.
The visuals are very satisfying to look at and just like most games that focus on the mechanics, it doesn’t have something too extraordinary to mention. Animation flows perfectly and the music that accompanies our mind struggles is just perfect for each case. The interactive sounds are of course a huge bonus since they make the player feel more invested.
You can find Circles on Steam for the price of 5,59 (discounted due to Steam Summer Sales).
Circles is a great addition to puzzle games genre and although it feels as a staple “break your brain” kind of toy at first, it evolves into something more that lets you grow your skills as you play it. The flow of the difficulty is done very well and although it ends up being a one-trick pony for most people, the enthusiasts will find a lot of replayability in it by trying out the additional modes.
+ The interactive sound allows you to blank out everything around the game and enjoy its mind-breaking puzzles
+ A lot of replayability with the additional modes that provide an extra challenge to an already interesting puzzle game
– Will unfortunately end up being another one-trick pony game for the more casual gamers that will not bother going through its additional content
– Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis