* Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.
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About the Story
What is your crime? Why do you feel both guilty and unjustly punished? What has happened to your memory? How will you draw a square circle and get out of your prison? What will you find then?
Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2004 XYZZY Awards
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Square Circle suffers from being oversized for a comp game -- not heinously so, but I think I was only about 75% through when the two-hour bell rang. So that'll hurt its rating with me. Otherwise, though it's a little unpolished in places, this game offers an intriguing scenario and some enjoyable puzzles, and I recommend it, especially if it sees a revised post-comp edition.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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You are a prisoner for a crime you don't remember committing, and your only chance of escape is to draw a square circle.
Kafkaesque is a word many have used to describe this game, and indeed a sense of claustrophobia pervades the entire escape attempt. The writing is solid and sometimes witty; most visible objects were implemented. It was, however, marred for me with imperfect line breaks and the occasional "infodump".
Balance between story and puzzles was probably a tough call here. There is plenty of both, which provides for a rich playing experience, but the delivery of major plot points was often delivered as an uninterrupted chunk of text. Reading the 'infodump' like that broke the flow of the story and, for me, lessened the impact of the most major twists. The puzzles were well-hinted with contextual hints, and there are multiple solutions to some of the puzzles. Despite this, the puzzles are not easy. For me, solutions weren't immediately obvious and I often referred to the hints. I found it hard to find that moment of enlightenment when solving the puzzles, partly because there wasn't enough material with which I could experiment. Also, it seems to be possible to put the game into an unwinnable state, probably meriting its Nasty rating on the Forgiveness scale.
Conversation in Square Circle also merits some mention, with most topics of conversation given an appropriate response. As with Blighted Isle, Eve also includes some natural-sounding responses to topics for which the NPCs do not have an answer - a thoughtful, and also playful, gesture.
Square Circle is technically strong, with a well-thought-out story and interesting puzzles. There is a good twist towards the end, and perhaps could adopt a more strongly consistent tone, but well worth playing.
The plot was amazing, and I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that solving the titular puzzle was only the beginning of the plot. The interactions with NPC's were lovely, and the puzzles were logical and stimulating. Overall, it was very nice gameplay experience.
The only complaint I would have is that, for me, the ending came too abruptly.* The story really began to pick up for me after you find out your identity, and I had hoped that it would be longer, and that there would have been an epilogue or appendix that showed you the results of your actions. Or maybe there was one, and I just completely missed it.
Either way, it was a thoroughly enjoyable game, and the biggest twist in it really made it for me. I recommend this very much.
*NOTE: This is probably due to personal experience. I have a friend who's a coast guard and sails around the world for a living, and he's talked to me many times about (Spoiler - click to show)shapes on globes and how you can have all sorts of seemingly contradictory shapes if you're drawing on a sphere. In addition, I've read about this in a physics book before, so I had a really clear idea of how to draw the square circle, and only needed to figure out the little hindrances before getting to the globe. Therefore, probably the most challenging and time-consuming puzzle there was ... I finished very, very quickly, resulting in my feeling that the game was short.
Square Circle has many of the best parts of an Eric Eve game. Great NPCs and conversation, an expansive map that doesn't need too much mapping, a large number of items, and smooth writing.
The plot wasn't as compelling as other Eric Eve games, but it was still pretty good. You are put in prison, your memory erased, until you can make a 'square circle'.
The solution to this puzzle was unexpected to me, and I used a hint, but it was fun. What was much more fun, however, was the psychological drama that unfolded for the rest of the game.
This game was well-regarded for its puzzles, and I found them fun as well. I prefer Nightfall, Blighted Isle, and All Hope Abandone by Eve to this game, but it is still a very good game.
Recommended for everyone.
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