Subsurface Circular

From the developer of Thomas Was Alone comes a story about robots. Mike Bithell clearly spends a lot of time thinking about AI.

It’s a short experience and I finished it within 2 hours (spoilers for the end of this post- my apologies). The player character is a detective Tek whose directive is to ride the Subsurface Circular underground trainline for eternity, keeping an optic out for any unusual goings-on and report them to Management.

It feels a little bit like Mr Bithell had a story to tell, but didn’t really know how to turn it into a game. For the most part, you speak with other Teks about the things they’ve seen, and use Focus Points gained from certain conversations to trigger new dialogue options in others. At that point it’s basically a visual novel, but then come the puzzles- and while they’re fun, they feel pretty awkward and shoe-horned in. They’re also largely skippable if you just want to experience the story without any (non-investigative) roadblocks, which I think is a valid choice.

There’s a pretty sudden and jarring change in direction about 4/5ths the way into the story, which may or may not be to your liking. I won’t spoil it, but from reading other reviews it seems like a Marmite moment.

Fin or Bin:

Of course, I Finished it, and am glad to have done so. It manages to weave some compelling world building from the confines of a single underground train carriage. I’m not super jazzed about the way it went towards the end, YMMV- I think it’s worth finding out.

(Steam)

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