“Dizzying” hardly even begins to describe fractal platformer, Circa Infinity.
Kenny Sun is the one-man design and development outfit behind upcoming fractal platformer, Circa Infinity. I’d played the demo build on Steam before the show, so I was eager to see the fan response and chat with Sun about the game’s concept. Reception is very mixed, but seems to elicit a love it or hate it sort of response. If you like platformers, and don’t mind a bit of vertigo here and there, you’d do well to check it out, if only for the novelty of the concept.
The game is comprised of a number of levels, each of which has 10 stages and a boss. Each stage is made up of upwards of a dozen concentric circles, which, as you navigate through them towards the center, take on fractal characteristics. You go deeper and deeper into the layers, but it looks the same, more or less, regardless of what scope you’re looking from. Your goal is to jump from one layer onto the next, which is nested within the outer layer, but the only way into the next layer is by jumping through the small marked section of the circle, so you’ll encounter gatekeeper enemies that you’ll need to puzzle out a way to bypass.
The concept is incredibly simple, but the challenge it can present is intense, as the monsters evolve as you progress through the game. Where you start off by simply hopping over stationary mobs, you’ll eventually be dodging enemies both inside and outside of your current layer. Anything colored red in the game will kill you, and you’ll notice that early on everything outside of your current layer adopts the black and white scheme of the boards, but further on, you’ll see towering figures from outer layers stay red, forcing you to duck under them as you try to squeeze into the next layer.
The boss fights can be incredibly difficult, but they use the classic boss mechanic of windows of opportunity for a single attack, and requiring three hits to down the baddie. The first boss – which is, admittedly, the only one I’ve managed to get to at this point – is a giant face that floats around invincible, but stops periodically to shed a dual stream of deadly tears, while the boss itself is made vulnerable. You’ve just got to dodge the boss and spawning enemies to get yourself in place between the streams of tears, so you can hop up and get your hits in. This boss isn’t too difficult, but I’ve seen folks take on more advanced bosses, and it’s a bit baffling to me that some folks just breeze right through these encounters.
While there’s something great to be said about novel innovation in game mechanics – like using fractal-esque concentric circles as your levels – I think Circa Infinity also brings a lot to the table for the speedrunners of the world. I have no doubt that there will be some ridiculous speedrun videos of this game, and suspect they should come with a combo epilepsy/vertigo warning. Slowly navigating the levels is already dizzying, so watching someone zip through them the way I’ve seen with speedruns of other games will almost certainly prove to be a spectacle.
Circa Infinity is set for launch on September 9th for PC and Mac via Steam. Given the available demo, though, I’d strongly encourage you to take that out for a spin (HA!) before you commit to the purchase, since there is actual potential for an unpleasant physical reaction to the game’s visuals.