Finding your missing peace.
Upon first glance, Journey of the Broken Circle appears to be a visually stunning and relaxing experience. However, after playing through the entirety of the 3-4 hour adventure, you’ll quickly come to realize that there is much more to it than that. Deep emotions and core values are demonstrated and emphasized amongst most of the cast in this story. I found these to be quite relatable to my own personal real life experiences and encounters with others.
Journey of the Broken Circle, developed by Loveable Hat Cult, stars Circle, or rather an “incomplete circle” who shows a lot of heart and compassion, setting out on a journey to find their missing piece to allow them to feel complete again. You’ll travel through many various landscapes and mystical areas with basic platforming-style gameplay, as well as come across many other supporting characters along the way. Some of them will accompany you throughout your journey, granting you different special abilities for a period of time. One of these is called Sticky (a sticky thing?), who allows you to stick to walls, essentially allowing you to climb up obstacles in your way. In short, the game is very simple and doesn’t demand much prior gaming experience. But is there even more than meets the eye?
As mentioned earlier, what appeared to be a relaxing experience evolves into a much deeper and emotionally driven tale of someone trying to feel complete. Not just for the missing gap that makes them look like PAC-MAN, but to feel that sense of comfort and support from another. We all can relate to this to some degree, and I firmly believe that those who decide to play through this game will discover what I mean in their own kind of way. Relationships and human touch are vital for our overall well-being as humans. For me specifically, Journey of the Broken Circle was most relatable in terms of how anxiety and fear can really develop into a larger enemy within us, one that many on the outside won’t realize or truly see. Circle fights against shadow-like creatures spawned from their own fears, insecurities, and more, eventually finding their way towards growth and confidence in themself to move forward to the next chapter of the game.
Although simplistic level design is apparent throughout the playthrough, it can prove to be difficult at times to actually execute what the game intends for you to do. I’ll explain further, though keep in mind that it’s possible individual experiences may vary. In one of the areas in the third chapter, I found myself rolling down a large hill. At the end of that hill, I had come across what appears to be a loop for you to go through (akin to Sonic the Hedgehog). Once I had reached the loop, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have enough momentum to be able to go through it. The solution? To go back up the hill and try again. In this particular moment, no matter how many times I would try to follow what the game’s level design intended, I would find myself more confused and frustrated with it, having to take a break and come back to it at a later point of the day, which left something to be desired. This is one example of many that demonstrates how the physics in this game can prove to be unreliable at times. Whether it’s climbing onto a wall you were meant to stick to, a branch you were supposed to latch onto that flings you forward to the next one, or in this case not maintaining the momentum needed to go through a loop, the game fails to provide any sense of direction, or instruction for your newly obtained abilities. As someone who was very invested in the story, sporadic moments like these throughout my playtime were a letdown.
One obvious highlight of Journey of the Broken Circle is its entire presentation. The visuals are gorgeous, especially at high viewpoints, and the writing of the characters left me begging for more. Its style is very similar to the likes of other classic indies like Donut County, A Short Hike, Night in the Woods, and more. The wit and humor found in these types of games always captures my attention. Being reminded of how real world scenarios can be played out for fun inside of an imaginative game like Journey of the Broken Circle really does allow us to feel more personally connected to the game’s cast of characters and environments.
Journey of the Broken Circle is a unique and special type of game. The way it presents itself and unfolds as you progress is an experience I firmly believe everyone should witness or play through at least once. I like to think of this game as a storybook. The text and speech from the characters and narration is presented in a way like you’re flipping pages in a children’s book. As you roll forward, narration follows. If you roll back, the narration replays itself again (which I found myself doing a few times as I would occasionally roll forward too quickly; it’s a nice touch). The story teaches us how to become content with ourselves and our spirits, as well as helping us learn what we value in other people whom we seek to have become part of our lives. Though some sections of the game could definitely use some polish, in addition to being a bit more tedious and frustrating than you’d expect, the value and overall presentation of this emotionally driven tale more than makes up for its hitches. Journey of the Broken Circle is a title that I’d heavily recommend to those who are battling wars within themselves and wish to find a relatable experience that can provide peace, and maybe even a little wisdom for the game we all play: life.