South of the Circle is a walking sim that was developed by indie studio State of Play and published by 11 Bit Studios. It was released on August 3rd, 2022 for PC and Consoles.
*Disclaimer: A code was provided for the sake of this review. This in no way affects my review, as my thoughts are mine and mine alone.
In the cold barren tundra of Antarctica, you awake in your downed airplane. Your pilot in the wreckage with you. How are you going to get out? Can you survive this? You see a light flash in the distance and start your trek in the cold to try and find help. But will you arrive in time is the main question. You take on the role of Dr. Hamilton and learn why he’s here in the first place, and the harrowing journey he goes through.
The story in the game jumps around a lot, as you see Dr Hamilton in the University Of Cambridge in the UK, struggling with writing a paper to earn professorship. The story takes place in 1965, so the world is also dealing with the fallout of the Cold War, so it’s hard to trust anybody, especially the Russians. So there are a lot of topics centered all around that in the game, and dealing with communists. The time era that the game is centered around also shows what some of the other issues were at the time, especially sexism towards a supporting character in the story. It was so well done, I truly wondered if it was that bad.
The game has dialogue choices, but not in the traditional sense. During conversations, you get little pop ups above the characters head. Sometimes just one, but most of the time, there are multiple choices. These don’t necessarily help craft the story in any meaningful way, as no matter what you choose, there’s no real repercussions. Characters don’t hate you more, or anything. There’s some choices throughout the game that get pinned to a line of “important choices” that were made. These get referred to eventually and it was cool to see them thrown around, so at least there’s some sense of story crafting.
What was really interesting was the way the developers made the scene transition from the middle of the Arctic to end up being in the middle of Cambridge. So you’d be driving a car in the snow, and suddenly you’re in a conversation, and you see the lines of a normal road, with streetlights. It was perfect.
I will say the way the story ended had me scratching my head quite a bit. Mostly because it seems to have been left open to interpretation from the player. As much as I wanted to change a few things to see if they made a difference, there was no way to rush through the three hour story, and part of me didn’t feel like sitting through all of it, all over again. Though I will end up trying again, mostly because it was so wonderful in the long run. Now if only there was a chapter selection choice.
- Engaging Story
- Interesting Choice For Dialogue Choices
- No Chapter Select
I loved this short experience that was done in the backdrop of Antarctica. The story was compelling, the way you selected how to respond to characters was a unique twist, and I really enjoyed learning how Dr Hamilton found himself in his situation. I do wish there was a chapter select for specific spots, as it made it harder to do another playthrough, but it’s definitely worth more than one in the long run! This is worth it for walking sim lovers.