Vicious Circle (PC) Review
A unique concept
Fast rapid gameplay
Corporate culture, and working in general for that matter, is a weird thing. The chance to succeed is constantly at odds with the need to follow obscure rules and strategies. They require you to work with others to complete a goal, but you have to defend your performance from those others as well. Whether the developers intended it or not Vicious Circle is an interesting analogy for climbing the corporate ladder, only with a lot more lasers and giant mutant chicken monsters.
Gameplay divides up to five players into two groups and then places them in a race to gather a set number of items and escape the level. The first group consists of up to four players that choose a “Circle-Merc” avatar, which is a unique and colorful sci-fi character with custom abilities. These players race to be the first to gather seventy-five “Nuggets” and then use one of two escape portals to win the round. However, while the Mercs are competing against each other, they’re not allowed to harm each other. Instead, they are required to use found special items that enable them to steal nuggets from or otherwise mess with the other players. Now the second group consists of one player who takes on the role of a monster, a giant mutated space chicken to be specific, that hunts the remaining players to try and stop them from gathering and exiting the level. Finally adding another layer to gameplay is that should the monster player kill one of the mercs, then they don’t die instead they transform in a “Lil’ Dipper,” a weird symbiote that looks like a cross between a Xenomorph and one of the Krang. Dippers can attack the other Mercs, and they can harm you. A successful attack on the Dippers part will have them taking over the merc’s body and their share of nuggets. A successful merc attack will cause the dipper to die and respawn.
If you think this sounds overly complicated than you’d be right. Vicious Circle is a fun and chaotic example of uncooperative entertainment. Rounds are fast-paced, with gameplay having a gratifying undercurrent of humor. However, there are some flaws as well. First, is that in an attempt to be different, developers created something incredibly hard to jump into. While it does get better as you play, it lacks the level of intuitiveness the some of its contemporaries have. Second is that it requires a full party of five players to maintain decent pacing and balance, which most rounds rarely do. Rounds are allowed to start with of minimum of three players, and this quickly shows the lack of balance between the three player types.
Graphics fit the tone and theme quite well. With character designs being unique and fun while offering customization with unlockable palette swaps called “sprays.” Level designs provide lots of small details and colors, with twisting pathways and multiple levels giving a custom fell to technically generic sci-fi settings. However, while there is a lot of uniqueness in the beginning, it quickly becomes repetitive. There are currently just four merc characters to choose from, and the various chicken monsters feel indistinguishable from each other. As well as the fact that with the hectic gameplay, most levels tend to blend together.
Vicious Circle is an entertaining game. While it takes time to adapt to its style and content may be limited, it’s time worth spent, and the developers are already adding content. While it may not be worth it to play now, it has a lot of potential for the future and is worth looking into.