Square Circle

by Eric Eve profile


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>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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- E.K., February 17, 2022

- Ray Leandro (Philippines), January 27, 2022

- Laney Berry, September 28, 2018

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), December 30, 2016

- E. W. B., February 24, 2016

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.

3 of 3 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.

- Joshua Houk, October 18, 2014

- Ann R. J., April 19, 2013

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), April 16, 2012

- rootmos (Stockholm, Sweden), April 7, 2012

- MonochromeMolly, November 25, 2011

- dacharya64, August 29, 2011

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.

- Nikos Chantziaras (Greece), June 15, 2011

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A truely interactive game, November 29, 2010

This Kafkaesque game had me totally immersed from start to finish with a great story that unfolds slowly. There's a high level of interactivity with all sorts of objects and everything is well described. Highly polished with great attention to detail. The story really opens up after solving one hard puzzle, which I had to use a hint for, because I never would have got it. However, this did not detract from my score. In addition, I really loved the conversations with the NPCs which added a lot to the story. Personally, I have re-kindled my interest in IF after playing Scott Adams adventures as a kid and thought that this was a brilliant work of art which really opened up my eyes to the extended creative possibilities of Interactive Fiction. If you're interested in Distopias, pure logic, Kafka, Orwell, or political science fiction, this is the game for you.

- Narcisse, November 26, 2010

- Shigosei, July 28, 2009

- googoogjoob, May 20, 2009

- Michel Nizette (Brussels, Belgium), January 18, 2008

- AmberShards (The Gothic South), November 14, 2007

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Half-good, October 31, 2007
by Nusco (Bologna, Italy)
Related reviews: IF Competition 2004

A Kafkian story about a man imprisoned for unknown reasons. It becomes less and less interesting as it goes, but the philosophic undertones are clever and sometimes funny. Largely based on a difficult puzzle that doesn't really fit in IF format.

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- Pseudo_Intellectual (Vancouver, Canada), October 25, 2007

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