If Thomas Was Alone proved anything when it launched in 2012 as a resounding success, it’s that sometimes all you need is a few shapes to make an enjoyable gaming experience. You heard that, Unreal Engine 5? You can shove your billions of polygons up your behind.
Journey of the Broken Circle is another fine example of how that simplicity can translate into a charming and entertaining experience for gamers to dive into, with its warm narrative and simple platforming mechanics making for a pleasant treat for Nintendo Switch gamers.
Journey of the Broken Circle tells the story of… well… a broken circle. That broken circle is the star of the show, but it just so happens to be going through a bout of sadness due to the fact it’s missing a piece – nobody wants to be a broken circle, after all. What better way to fix that sadness than by finding a new piece to fill that empty void then? Well, as a lot of us probably know, finding that perfect fit for your life is never easy…
The sense of disdain and loss that the circle is going through will probably be pretty relatable for a lot of folk who play the game, with the metaphorical relationship-based undertones of the circle’s experience clear throughout. It goes through a multitude of emotions during its journey, and, in this particular time in the world, it’s something that we could all feel a bit of empathy towards. It makes the whole overarching narrative all the more deep and meaningful, which is pretty impressive when you consider its being told from the perspective of a circle.
Video games are pretty neat, huh?
The main gameplay loop of Journey of the Broken Circle consists of clearing platforming challenges and solving the occasional puzzle, with plenty of well-designed environments to explore that won’t necessarily test your platforming prowess too much but will occasionally force you to think outside of the box to solve the more perplexing enigmas. It’s clear from the offset that this isn’t the most complicated platforming adventure, but there will still be moments where some clever design ensures that you’ll be left scratching your head as to what you have to do.
Whilst the circle itself is able to roll around and jump freely, it’s with the parts that it meets to try and fill its missing void that it gets granted some new abilities. At one time you might be sticking to walls and climbing around, other times you may be floating across the environment – depending on who is with you at the time, you get some pretty neat tricks. It helps adds a fun degree of variety to Journey of the Broken Circle and adds an extra school of thought to its more ordinary platforming mechanics.
Of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t have some frustrating moments, with the physics acting a bit wacky on occasions and some platforming segments proving a little frustrating. Thankfully, it’s mostly good stuff, but you can expect to find yourself a little angry when you fail to make what should be a simple jump for the fifth or sixth time…
I’d be remiss not to mention how pretty Journey of the Broken Circle is, with its simple yet vibrant aesthetic offering some wonderful sights in-game. It probably helps that each locale manages to capture the vibe of the narrative perfectly, though there’ll also be occasions where you’re just left in awe at the myriad of lovely vistas that accompany your journey. It’s simple, sure, but it’s so bloody effective.
It all comes together to make for a memorable platforming-adventure, with Journey of the Broken Circle’s metaphorical and deep storytelling complimented by the simplicity of its gameplay mechanics. It will certainly hit home for a lot of people but ultimately delivers the message that you don’t have to be alone and that any trial can be overcome. Sure, there’ll be moments of darkness and harrowing thoughts along the way, but that’s all part of the journey to make yourself whole.
Journey of the Broken Circle’s blend of emotional-storytelling and neat puzzle-platforming makes for a really fun adventure, with this poor broken circle’s tale certainly a memorable one. Who would have thought that a circle could go through so much? It’ll definitely prove relatable for a lot of gamers out there…
With its clever puzzles and vibrant world though, there really is a lot to enjoy about the game. It does have its sour moments here and there (most notably with the occasional physics flaw), but for the most part its easy to sing Journey of the Broken Circle’s praises.
Developer: Lovable Hat Cult
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC