Journey of the Broken Circle (PS4) – Review
Follow Genre: 2D platformer
Developer: Lovable Hat Cult
Publisher: Nakana.io, Lovable Hat Cult
Platform: PC, Mac, PS4, Switch
Tested on: PS4

Journey of the Broken Circle (PS4) – Review

Site Score
8.5
Good: Innovative gameplay, Surprisingly deep story
Bad: Dying can interupt dialogue which you can't retrieve
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Deep narratives can be hidden behind simple appearances, this we know well enough. Journey of the Broken Circle might be the perfect example of this trope at work, however. An unassuming game about a circle on a journey to find its missing piece suddenly transforms into a story about self-discovery and existential dread. It can be quite jarring to find such heavy-hitting themes in a colorful adventure platformer. Then again, video games have always been a unique way to deliver a message, and this tale really manages to do it well.

Story

Journey of the Broken Circle is appropriately named with it revolving around a circle with a little piece missing. It rolls through the world in search of that which can make it whole again, meeting all sorts of other strangers along the way. Some of these other characters might try and help Circle on its way, teaming up temporarily, but along the journey you quickly discover their ideas and goals might be very different from your own. Relationships don’t always work out, and people have different outlooks on life.

The story is mostly brought through character dialogue, with the occasional cutscene that plays out. It’s quite stunning how much plot the developers managed to pack into such a simple package, especially concerning the characters, who are talking objects yet all have a lot of personality.

Graphics

Journey of the Broken Circle has an extremely simplistic art style, but somehow makes it work. In terms of character designs, they might be as basic as they’re going to get – the main character is literally just a circle after all. But the game more than makes up for it with some amazing sceneries. All the different places you visit have their own artistic look. The graphics play with depth a lot to make the areas look more dynamic despite it being a 2D platformer, and overall you end up with a sense that you’re always looking forward to seeing whatever place you’ll visit next. This fits the game’s theme of journeying out and discovering the world.

Sound

The soundtrack too is a solid piece of work. It’s the kind of music you want to sit down to with a cup of tea while listlessly staring out the window. It even manages to pull at your heartstrings in some of the more emotional moments. Despite relying heavily on character dialogue, the game does not have any voice acting. The characters do produce Animal Crossing-type mumbles as they talk, each having their own distinct ‘voice’.

Gameplay

Journey of the Broken Circle is an adventure platformer that has an interesting way to change the mechanics of the game up from time to time to keep you on your toes. The basic controls are pretty simple, consisting of moving Circle left or right across the screen and performing the occasional jump to get over obstacles. Once you start gathering friends, however, things get a little more complicated.

You’ll have to platform your way across increasingly dangerous terrain and deal with things such as jumping platforms or hot air that sends you into the air to reach higher spots. As mentioned, the game also has a tendency to change things around, such as hot areas having the ability to confuse Circle and invert your controls. The result is that despite the basic premise, the gameplay remains fresh and doesn’t become boring quickly. This is important since the game is about five hours long – longer than the usual indie game of this type.

The focus remains mostly on the story still. During the dialogue, you do sometimes get the option to choose what to say, but there’s not as much effect as you’d think. It feels more like extra flavor added as an afterthought. There are also mushrooms hidden across the levels that you can challenge yourself to collect. Some of them are hidden in secret locations that are hard to find or require secret tunnels to access. Looking for these mushrooms is a fun bonus since it’s so easy to go back to levels you have already played.

Conclusion

Journey of the Broken Circle is a peculiar game, having such a straightforward appearance yet hiding a lot of depth. The story can take you off guard, talking about the fragility of relationships, existentialism, and even the meaning of life. Not to everybody’s taste, but with the pleasing art style and the surprisingly fun gameplay sprinkled in, it becomes an experience that sets itself apart from other, similar games.

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Journey of the Broken Circle (PS4) - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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