Its difficult to talk about Journey of the Broken Circle without mentioning Thomas Was Alone. The two games are like two peas in a pod. They both follow geometric shapes having some kind of existential crisis. They’re both platformers and they are both great stories too. Whilst this game may have been overlooked, possibly because of a lack of narrator and a crowded indie scene, it deserves your attention.
Our broken circle is missing a slice of it to make it whole. Across the game you’ll move through various levels travelling onwards searching for the perfect fit. Circle can roll around and jump a bit but their movements change depending on the characters you meet. When you feel depressed, a motherly plant hugs you and you become sticky to leafy surfaces. Another character allows you to stick to walls. Another brings a speed boost. Balloon lets you float. Each character comes and goes as you muse together at your different outlooks on life. It’s a beautifully written story and intentionally on the nose. The metaphor is heavy but the way its told is engaging and endearing.
Platforming switches up as characters come and go. There’s a character that gets depressed so you can no longer jump so high and they drag you down to the floor. Being able to navigate tricky platforming areas like that is useful. Later on you’ll be swan diving under water to carry momentum through caves, or escape your own black cloud of sadness through broken rubble. The platforming itself is not a massive challenge but it swaps things out at pace to keep things fresh. Collectable mushrooms are just off the beaten path and they unlock two bonus levels. One sees everyone join circle together for a bountiful fun level. The second is a hellish bad trip where a mushroom in your mouth is used as a pick axe. It is about 6 times more difficult than anything else in the game and I never did finish it. Ben Foddy inspired indeed! Rage lovers only need apply.
I hada great time with Journey of the Broken Circle. My only mild niggles with the game came from some instances where I got stuck in background of something and had to restart a level. There was also an instant where a collectable mushroom is purposely uncollectable which drove me up the wall. Maybe it says a lot that I wanted a collection of mushrooms to be complete and it never will be. That’s the point of the game really. You can miss life going by you whilst looking for that elusive final piece of the puzzle. Enjoy yourself.
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