Circa Infinity Review (Switch): Circles Of Hell?

Dante can have his little words on the circles of hell but Circa Infinity is available on the Switch and much more playable. How's that for an excerpt? Rubbish.

Circa Infinity is genius. RedDeer Games has a knack for sniffing out quirky, arty titles that resonate with my tastes. While I’m not affiliated with the publisher, you can understand my affinity with their back catalogue. No, I didn’t get paid for any of that. Not a sausage.

Supported by a quote “My Brain Is Melting”, from the notorious Hungarian accordion player PewDiePie, you’ll soon give an approving nod once you’ve got past the first act. My spin on Kenny Sun’s game is like diving into the head of a Matryoshka doll chock-full of chunky pixels, directed by Junji Ito (Uzumaki), through the perspective of a broken kaleidoscope. On acid. Bizarrely, that’s a good thing.

A comparable title would be Maddening Euphoria – also an excellent indie if you’re climbing the walls and ceilings, hunting for something different to play. Circa Infinity gameplay is no-nonsense as you literally jump straight into the action, and that’s essentially all you can do in this circular platformer.

But that’s more than enough.

Circa Infinity Switch Review - March
March. Source: PR

The objective is to dive deeper into the infinite. With each stage, you run on the outer circumference of a circle. The only way in is through a triangular opening, but dancing demonic creatures lie on the other side, and each collision sends you back a previous layer. The stage is then completed when you reach the vertigo-inducing spiral portal at the centre.

It’s not complicated in design, but the challenge is an excellent example of increasing intensity – on all levels. Each stage adjusts the challenge dial in such increments that it feels like a doddle when you look back at previous stages.

Everything in Circa Infinity has a rhythm, from the orbs you seek out to the advanced enemies that shift through inner and outer layers like melting ice cream in a sock. Recalling for a friend. We have the soundtrack to thank for the tempo; the score by Jack and Jim Fay is intoxicating. Hell, the whole game is.

Infinity is everlasting, but Circa Infinity Switch is not. Each area is separated by acts and concluded with a boss battle that is less arduous than the core experience. You’ll face oversized enemies with their spin on bullet hell, jump into them at colour-changing opportunities, then it’s back to the inner circles. A la la la la long.

As touched upon, the game intensifies through progression, as any game should, but the later chapters can be… hectic. You should know your gaming limits, but I’d advise that you play in small doses as the imagery is hypnotic and can be mildly disorientating when returning to reality where everything melting around you. 

Circa Infinity Switch Review - Overwhelming
Overwhelming. Source: PR

While this isn’t a rage-quitting experience, those later stages are testing when you’re repeatedly sent back a layer, and in some cases, a few at a time if connecting with an enemy. There are no limited lives, but deaths and the time taken are recorded at each stage’s end. In addition, there are no game overs as such, but if you continually get clipped by an enemy, you’ll keep going back a layer. That could be dictated by skill, but the hardest part of Circa Infinity was the shift in directional control. 

Moving one direction can sometimes do the opposite depending on what side of the circle you are on. When you dive into an inner circle, you may end up getting clipped by an enemy during the brief adjustment window needed to get your bearings. This could be me as I struggle with mirrored coordination at times, but I’m sure others could find it counterintuitive too. But that’s science, nothing to do with the game.

Challenging gameplay shouldn’t be seen as a deterrent, so there’s no hesitation in recommending this. Circa Infinity is a fair game. It’s not one of those ‘easy to pick up, difficult to master’ titles as all you have to do is jump. It’s about timing and precision, so judging on that criterion, it’s well-balanced and enjoyable. Mostly. It’s not without its frustrations – mine being the coordination and occasional disorientation. However, it’s still one of the best indie titles I’ve played this year. Put that on a t-shirt, Kenny – not a brain-melting quote from that unknown influencer.

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