The Life of a Magical Circle is the first game from Solideo, a one-person indie game development studio looking to focus on more philosophical games. Their first title definitely doesn’t disappoint, taking the general aesthetics of Geometry Wars, with the frustrations of Getting Over It, dashing in a bit of roguelike and philosophy with dynamic music, narration and lots of intent. There is a lot to what is overall a rather simplistic game.
There’s just a circle, it’s a bit hard to control and there are things that you don’t want to hit. There are some collectibles. There’s not a lot going on until things start to advance and the narrator starts to provide color to the world you’re playing within. Soon you’re trying to figure out what each collectable does and what you’re wanting to collect and not along with the true meaning behind the journey.
Simple games done well are often excitingly refreshing even if they offer more of the same than we’ve seen before. The life of a Magical Circle doesn’t reinvent anything and it doesn’t come with much more than some shapes and beautiful fractal backgrounds with smooth appropriately accompanying music.
The way everything is used brings about what is a small but well-polished game that provides a captivating experience in a Zen-like state as you traverse this virtual world and ponder what it all means with the narrator. Emotions are symbolized in actions between the circle and its world with the narrator guiding your thoughts along in a mediative flow.
The game really blossoms once you begin moving through different game modes and the music begins to change and the narrator begins to open up more. You get more and more excited but then, you took a risk and it didn’t pay off. You’re back at the start. Thankfully the game adapts, as you get more circles (go further in the game), you move along faster through the start.
Each of these concepts were placed together with intent and they come together smoothly into a nice satisfying game. That’s hard to do with such simple elements, but this game pulls it off very well.
The game follows the life of a circle. I made a reference to Getting Over It earlier. That’s due to how the circle isn’t completely responsive to your input; you’re more or less guiding it around. It’s not directly following your mouse, but instead lags a bit and tends to delay its actions. You can play with the sensitivity but that just changes the behavior – it doesn’t make it 1:1 to your mouse input.
This can cause you to easily smash into a square or avoid dodging something easily. This isn’t a design flaw but more of the intent behind giving the player something to do as they journey. If the circle were to follow your mouse, then the game would actually be less than what it is, which is actually kind of neat.
The music and gameplay together are extremely satisfying and at this price point that’s more than I expected. I actually can’t find much to complain about, other than the everything in the game is polished (in the version I played) except the menus. My one criticism is that I wish the menus and title screen were as polished and tight as the gameplay was.
Coming in at $5.99 MSRP, The Life of a Magical Circle is a splendid timewaster. If you like something like Geometry Wars and want to challenge yourself with some frustrating yet satisfying mechanics, then this game definitely is for you. The best part is the developer offers a free demo to let you decide if you want to play more of the experience or not, which I’d suggest looking into if you’re on the fence.
You can find The Life of a Magical Circle on Steam starting August 1, 2023 with a demo available now.