Thursday, March 01, 2018
"Subsurface Circular" Review
The visual novel "Subsurface Circular" could have been released in any era, but maybe is the best fit for 2018 because there are so few games that are anything like it.
With perhaps the closest analogue being the "Hatoful Boyfriend" pigeon-schoolyard-romance series, the game tells a "Mass Effect"-twinged sci-fi story, with your dialogue choices opening up new branching gameplay paths while closing down others.
Credit goes to the Bithell Games writing team for conjuring a narrative that forces you to examine the text uttered by you and the rest of the characters rather than numbly tap your way through. The reward truly is the journey here, with background visuals serving as the only reminders that you're playing a game rather than reading a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure e-book.
Working as a detective investigating the disappearance of robotic workers, you feel out witnesses, nudging them to cough up key information without losing your cool or causing them to lose theirs. Every choice you make can snowball and drastically change not only the outcome of your dialogue tree, but the story as a whole. You'll find yourself having to make tough decisions with inadequate information onhand, dealing with pangs of regret the rest of the saga for opportunities missed.
A compelling crime yarn through and through, "Subsurface Circular" is a welcome literary change of pass in an action-heavy medium.
Publisher provided review code.