If you are a fan of neo retro, these game projects that aim to explore dated genres to modernize them, Gravity Circuit, developed by Domesticated Ant Games and published by PID Games, might interest you. No Metroidvania here, since it’s literally the franchise Mega Man, with its consequences X And Zero, which feeds the game design of this new challenger.
The suitors continue to multiply and we no longer count the resumptions of Metroid, Castlevania Or shinobi, etc Competition is fierce on the independent scene, but also with the classics of the time. However, the very principle of neo retro is to surpass the tenors thanks to modern technical possibilities. However, it is difficult not to get off on relaunching Mega Man X4 Or Symphony Of The Night. The stakes are high so as not to end up in oblivion.
Because, the real challenge for these titles which claim to have such cult influences, as with Gravity Circuit, is to succeed in extricating oneself from the imposing shadow of such licenses. Because the masters mentioned above do not only rely on quality game design. To last over time, and impose itself in people’s minds, it is also necessary to succeed in dressing up with a true identity. Via gameplay, aesthetics or even the universe.
Test condition: We played on PC via Stream. We finished the game in about 5 hours in normal mode, with a completion rate around 80%.
Between the visual aspect and the game design, it’s impossible not to think about Mega Man when we throw Gravity Circuit. Robotic atmosphere, a hero, Kai, equipped with combat armor in the colors of Zero, an emblematic character of the Capcom franchise, or even the mission selection screen giving us the freedom to choose which level to start with, and therefore which boss to face, among the 8 present. Everything is there.
Each stage is punctuated by a boss and will have its own environment with its traps and bestiary. Without saying too much, know that the usual area of ice, with the presence of peaks everywhere, and its opposite bathed in lava are on the menu. Platform phases requiring a few skills, lasers or other well-known game sequences of the genre will be used throughout the adventure.
The opportunity to discover an overall excellent level design that intelligently knows how to take advantage of situations and game mechanics. Because if Gravity Circuit draws on the Megaman, it will feed on elements seen in the sequels featuring Zero. The grappling hook in particular appeared in Mega Man Zero 2, which will allow here some follies worthy of the spider-man, all things considered.
But we also find the variety of movements specific to Zero and his mastery of close combat, unlike his blue sidekick who favors blaster fire from a distance. If Kai doesn’t have a saber or blaster, he can rely on his grappling hook to deal damage from a distance and his fists to retaliate in melee. In Gravity Circuit it’s raining hooks and uppercuts, even wrestling holds.
The energy that emerges from the clashes does honor to the vivacity of a Zero, but manages to stand out from it through Kai’s attacks. For the rest, with its slide and its permissive wall jumps, the heroes of Capcom just have to watch out. We must admit that the grip is very good, it’s fluid, instinctive and it responds very well without lacking precision even during the platforming phases.
In terms of pure technique, the teams did a very good job. Without denigrating the background. You have a freedom of action and a new dynamism for which would never have touched a Mega Man. This ease in movement is supported by unlockable abilities, such as the double jump or the possibility of dashing an enemy with the grappling hook, which continue to offer variations in playstyle.
Especially since with the presence of the grappling hook and the wall jumps at the start of the game, Gravity Circuit directly gives you the necessary to overcome the experience only to the talent. In a certain sense, the movements are not especially essential, although some make things much easier. The same goes for the actions skills to buy, which will instead add special attacks to Kai.
Laser beam, clone, healing, etc., there are enough choices to customize your combat equipment. Note that you will be limited quantity. The character can only carry a limited number of modules on him, forcing you to make certain concessions. It is nevertheless allowed to change at will via the pause menu. We haven’t explored everything in terms of possibilities, but there is enough to vary his style of play a little, with some interesting synergies. Especially for higher difficulties, because yes, the game offers several levels.
Stand Alone Complex
The game design is very solid. We also feel that there is still a little margin and that the studio can go further. The only real noticeable downside is perhaps the end of the less inspired adventure. Whether in the level design and the repetition of situations, or simply from a scenario point of view. In terms of plot, Gravity Circuit serves the bare minimum. Some will say that we are not here for that anyway.
This is not entirely false indeed. However, everyone is free to think what they want, but a license like Megaman, especially with X And Mega Man Zero, is far from having a non-existent scenario. Admittedly, the narration is quite cryptic and generally relegated to the background, but that in no way detracts from the many themes addressed by the franchise, and which are detectable and palpable in play, to whoever wants to pay attention and immerse themselves in the game. ‘universe.
Without it really being a problem, Gravity Circuit hard to convince on this. It does not affect the experience in any way, it just removes a little presence, weight from the universe and the hero. At least the artistic direction works relatively well, as well as the clearly successful OST. We find rather lively 80s and 90s typed sounds, enough to perfect the feeling of returning to another era of video games.
And despite a somewhat short lifespan, although consistent with its influences, the desire to return to improve its scores, test other abilities and/or explore the few hidden corners is very real. Besides, Gravity Circuit is well balanced in terms of difficulty. The normal mode was able to show resistance but was never insurmountable. The levels know how to respect the players without cheap shots or punitive deaths, while the bosses effectively punctuate the missions.