Circa Infinity Review (Switch eShop)
Over the centuries, the circle has left an indelible mark on our culture: Wagner’s Ring cycle; Dante’s Inferno; Pythagorean theorem; Domino’s Pizza. Now Kenny Sun Circa Infinity comes to Switch to distract us from everything except maybe pizza.
Just hitting consoles, this indie puzzle and action platformer hit the PC in 2015, generating buzz with its unique concept and vibrant visuals. You control a small pixel man who runs outside the circle that fills the screen. There is a segment of the circle that you can enter by standing on its arc and pressing the jump. Upon entering the circle, your person rolls over to run around the inside of the circle. Another small circle floats around the middle of the circle you entered and can be reached by jumping when it is within reach. The screen will then enlarge so that this new circle fills your view and the process repeats. As you progress through the game, new types, behaviors and models of enemies appear; contact with any villains leads to failure.
The difficulty is certainly increasing, but what sets Circa Infinity apart from other indie games with a good idea is the level design that does a great job of teaching the player the necessary skills and then encouraging creative thinking based on what has been learned. The difficulty curve is as smooth as the round circles, giving you the feeling of a wise martial arts mentor who would love to be lost but won’t let you win. Rather than giving a certain number of lives and subtracting them as punishment for failure, the game lets you try as many times as you want, but pushes you one stage every time you die. It seems fair and requires composure – if disappointment creeps in, it’s too easy to combine a series of deaths and end up at the beginning of a level again.
We can make comparisons with all sorts of games: single-screen action, circular play area and pixel art are reminiscent of classic golden age arcade games such as Asteroids and Defender… Sometimes it seems like a rhythmic trick Super hexagon and sometimes I like it VVVVVV… The color-coding of enemies as they switch between lethal and benign — along with frantic reading of patterns of reflex action — seems to be like Ikaruga… Suffice it to say that Circa Infinity offers everything one could get from its simple formula, and it does it with flair and a killer soundtrack.
While it carries over well to Switch, the pixel art style doesn’t work. enough reads as deliberately on the PDA screen. This is especially true on a large OLED screen. OLED players will also be well aware that blacks are not enough black, and your screen will be backlit in grainy gray rather than absorbing light into glossy darkness.
Circa Infinity is a game where form follows function and function follows form. If the bold circle on the screen was a chicken, then the mechanism of the wrapping platformers was an egg. The constant trick of its concentrated concentricity is strikingly round, but once you buy it indoors, it makes perfect sense. The player-friendly level design and well-thought-out difficulty curve will let you shine with fluid intricacy and sinister challenge, while its distinctive appearance will leave an indelible mark on your memory.