Circa Infinity describes itself as a brain-melting platformer with a pulse-pounding soundtrack, and I have to say, it’s an apt description.
Circa Infinity plays just like a platformer should. It starts off with the basics, letting you learn how to move and handle the puzzles while steadily building up the difficulty.
There are five areas that consist of ten levels and one boss fight, and each level brings forth multiple layers of puzzles and platforming that you need to get through. It’s a unique approach to platforming that I’ve personally never experienced before. The level is built around a circle with a triangle wedge marked on it. To progress, you navigate to the wedge and then jump into the next layer. From there, you can jump into a floating orb that takes you deeper into the level. You repeat this process until you make it to the final hypnotic circle that teleports you to the next level.
There are enemies scattered throughout the stages and these will send you back to the previous circle if they manage to hit you. Get unlucky and die a few times in a row and you can get sent back pretty far. But Circa Infinity isn’t totally unforgiving. You see, with every few circles that you clear, there will typically be a section where there are no enemies or puzzles. Once you make it to one of these rooms, since you can’t die you don’t need to worry about getting sent back. It’s a nice checkpoint system that gives you a breather, especially after a series of challenging puzzles.
The first couple of areas of Circa Infinity felt like they were calibrating my reflexes more than anything. The enemies that are introduced all act in specific ways. For example, some will run at you as long as you are touching the ground. Others will fly around but only while you are jumping. There is a large enemy that can’t be jumped over, but it also can be hit while you are on the outside of the next circle that you are trying to get into.
Each one is introduced in a way that allows you to learn how you need to interact with them, but when they are pushed to their full potential, it’s downright scary. The difficulty really ramps up once you hit the third area and you are tasked with moving two characters. Each character’s movement is synced and they are both on opposite sides of the circle. The wedges, on the other hand, are usually a little harder to get to, and figuring out these levels takes a lot more thinking. Sometimes the solutions turn out to be simple – those that you will kick yourself for missing; but learning to take a break every once in a while helps immensely.
At the end of each area there is a boss level, and these are some of my favorite parts of the game. Each one requires a little bit of thinking to beat, and once you learn the secret to defeating them it becomes a matter of surviving while you land your hits. Sadly, the last area’s boss encounter is more of a formality than an actual puzzle or challenge, but beyond that all of the bosses are incredibly enjoyable.
Each boss also has its own soundtrack that really adds to Circa Infinity. In fact, the entire game has great music. It’s catchy and gets your blood pumping, without ever becoming too overbearing. Even when I was stuck on a level and the same song played on a loop for 20 minutes, I never felt the need to reach for the mute button or put on my own music.
Movement is tight and responsive, the hitboxes are actually fairly generous, and I never felt like my deaths were unfair. Now, that’s not to say there weren’t times I got frustrated, but my failures were mine alone and really never of the game itself. And believe me, there were plenty of times I could’ve blamed the game because I died a lot.
I like to think of myself as someone who is fairly decent at platformers and let me just say that Circa Infinity is a hard game. It’s really quite amazing how every level just manages to stay one step ahead of you as you’re playing. Each time I thought I had the mechanics down and I was ready to breeze through, the next stage would just get harder. But it’s that which makes the beating of Circa Infinity that much more satisfying. It took me just over five and a half hours to beat Circa Infinity, and most of that time was spent in the last ten or so levels.
Achievement hunters are in for a brutal time. As of writing this, three of the 51 achievements are listed as common, and the rest are rare. Only 1.34% of people have actually finished Part V and beaten Circa Infinity once they have started it. That says a lot for how tough this is.
Overall, Circa Infinity is what more platformers should strive to be like. It’s not just a redundant push through the same kind of puzzles. Each puzzle is well thought out, the difficulty doesn’t fluctuate randomly, and there is a real feeling of satisfaction each time you overcome an obstacle. If you want a platformer that’s going to force you to think and act quickly, then Circa Infinity is a must have.
Circa Infinity is available to download from the Xbox Store