Capsule Review: Journey of the Broken Circle

A moody dialog-heavy 2D platformer with a relatable story and fiddly physics.

A story-based physics platformer. Play as an incomplete circle with the ability to roll and jump, and meet a few different partners over the course of your travels - each of which can combine with you to grant different abilities. Using this framework, evocative art, a beautiful soundtrack, and a lot of dialog, the game tells a story about seeking completion through companionship.

While simple, the story touches on near-universal experiences regarding relationships and self-worth that are likely to resonate with anyone struggling to find their missing piece. I expect this game could be therapeutic for the right audience. Impressively, the game’s mechanics help tell its story - the changes to your abilities and related systems nearly all illustrate characterization or plot elements.

Unfortunately, the game’s physics can get quite fiddly. Checkpoints are frequent and failure never sets you back very far, but you still may end up struggling with certain challenges for quite a while to get the timing and positioning just right and be able to progress. This can damage the game’s pacing and mood - during these stretches of time, the otherwise omnipresent dialog between characters goes silent and you go from guiding characters through a story to trying to overcome arbitrary objectives in a game. The tone and dramatic momentum could likely have been much better preserved if the physics were a bit more forgiving.

There are also hidden mushroom collectibles in each level that feel a bit tacked on and don’t have anything to do with the story. Collecting enough of them unlocks two bonus levels that are detached from the narrative and further explore the game’s physics - one in an explicit homage to Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, the other a bit closer to something like classic Sonic the Hedgehog. I can’t help but feel that this further demonstrates that the game is pulled in two conflicting directions - the bonus levels freely explore the game’s potential as a physics platformer; the main game is primarily a story for which the physics sometimes get in the way.

I Stopped Playing When: Despite a few moments where fighting the game’s physics was frustrating enough that I nearly quit, I finished the game. I did not collect all the hidden mushrooms but had enough to unlock the bonus levels. I tried them both but only briefly.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.