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competition entry
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Square Circle

by Eric Eve profile


(based on 26 ratings)
6 reviews

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?

Game Details


5th Place - 10th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2004)

Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2004 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

>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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Most Helpful Member Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzley and technically strong, with unfortunate infodumps, September 13, 2015
by verityvirtue (London)

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.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Very Enjoyable, June 15, 2011

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.

Note: this review is based on older version of the game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A well-developed and smooth game about paradox and oppresion, February 3, 2016

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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See All 6 Member Reviews

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Square Circle appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Faves~ by dacharya64
My favorite IF games of all time, as I've played 'em.

Great religious and mythological games by MathBrush
My "Best Fantasy" list was growing too big, so I'm splitting off the religious, mythological, and afterlife games. Some games like Curses! have a lot of religious and mythological references, but this list focuses on games where it's the...

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Games set in dystopias inspired by the Soviet Union. Often involves bureaucracy, wrongful imprisonment and revolution. Suggestions welcome.


The following polls include votes for Square Circle:

A Poll About ... A Poll About ... Hm. That's Funny. I Can't Recall. by Ghalev
As of the founding of this poll, the IFDB has only seven games with the "amnesia" tag. I don't buy that for an instant. Please vote for games where the player-protagonist-person is dealing with a bout of forgetfulness (usually about who...

Dystopia by dacharya64
I love dystopian fiction, and after playing Square Circle, I decided I had to see if there were other dystopian tales in the IF-verse.

Games with misleading titles by Cendare
I was thinking about "Nothing But Mazes" and how it, in fact, contains things that aren't mazes. What other games have titles that don't quite reflect what's inside?

This is version 10 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 9 May 2022 at 2:22am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page