Save State Enjoys Classic Platforming in Gravity Circuit

Welcome to Save State, where we like our retro style 2D platformers, thank you very much. This week, in spite of my backlog, I wound up buying a brand-new game that just dropped on Steam: Gravity Circuit. This was one of those titles where information was randomly displayed somewhere on the internet, immediately caught my eye, and was subsequently purchased day one for $16 because why not, it looked fun. Well, I’m sure you can figure out by now that if I found Gravity Circuit less than stellar, it wouldn’t have touched this column, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

The story is a relatively simple one, but that’s not to say that the plot in Gravity Circuit is just an excuse for gameplay. Sometime before the start of the story, nine brave warriors called Circuits fought against an enemy called the Virus Army to liberate a planet populated by robots. After quelling the Viruses, the Circuits went missing, save one- Kai, the Gravity Circuit. Peace lasted for a number of years until the Virus Army’s resurgence, but this time, they’re led by 8 of the Circuits who had previously defended the planet. Spurred into action, Kai rushes to battle his old compatriots and stop the Virus Army once and for all.

Gravity Circuit is one of those 2D platformers that’s heavily inspired by Mega Man- once you complete the intro stage, you’ll be treated to a stage select screen that gives you 8 options to choose from. Each stage consists of a somewhat lengthy level (for the genre) with a boss at the end, and every level has its own theme, stage-specific gimmicks to overcome, and goodies to find. You have a very simple set of tools at your disposal with both offensive and defensive applications, but how those tools interact with the level design is what makes Gravity Circuit special.

Your basic attack is a simple punch that requires you get up close and personal with your enemies, and after defeating them, you can grab enemies and chuck them at others who might be a bit harder to reach safely given your normal attack’s range. You also have a grapple hook that you can use to swing along the environment or attack enemies from a bit further away- it also grabs defeated enemies from a distance so you can do entertaining things like toss a robot to defeat an enemy over a gap, grab that enemy with the hook and throw it at a flying enemy that’s hovering above you. Beyond those tools, you can run by holding L2 which can allow you to avoid projectiles or obstacles, too.

The influences of titles like Mega Man Zero are plain as day, and there’s also a Kamen Rider vibe that comes from the various bots that make up the cast of Gravity Circuit. The grapple hook in this is effectively Mega Man Zero 2’s chain rod but legitimately fun and interesting to use, as you can swing along surfaces, use it to damage or grab defeated enemies, or just lift yourself out of harm’s way from a boss’s attack. The visuals have a particular 8-bit flair that’s replete with character, and the music for each stage is memorable and distinct, apparently made by the same individual who did the soundtrack for the fan game, Mega Man X: Corrupted.

Gravity Circuit wears its inspiration on its sleeves but doesn’t rest on its laurels: Every stage in this game is a masterpiece of 2D platforming, each with their own specific gimmicks and challenges to overcome, boss fights are ingeniously designed and very rewarding to clear without getting hit. Allowing players to heal at the checkpoints littered throughout each level means that Gravity Circuit isn’t overly punishing against those unfamiliar with platformer titles, but those who are can probably jump right into hard mode and speed run the stages after becoming familiar with them. In fact, it’s arguable that allowing players to fully heal for a small fee at checkpoints allows players to intuitively figure out each stage’s gimmick without being overly punished for it, which is far more impactful than it sounds.

It may sound like there’s not a lot to Gravity Circuit, but there’s a massive difference between players who try to tank all the damage a boss puts out, and skilled players who dash, grapple, and swing through enemy attacks to score a perfect knockout versus a boss. To add to its depth, Gravity Circuit also features mod chips and Burst techniques that you can utilize. You can equip three mod chips total, and they all generally give nice bonuses like extending your attack range or giving Kai a double jump. The Burst techniques utilize a meter that builds up as you defeat enemies that can give you an invulnerable dash, allow you to shoot a Kamehameha, or fire off a wall of electrified projectiles.

Proper utilization of Burst techniques is another facet of the game that will make clearing Gravity Circuit much easier, as using the omnidirectional dash technique can let you skip past tough platforming segments that otherwise would have given you headaches. Incorporating Burst moves into your usual gameplay, rather than just letting the meter fill to max and stay there, does a lot to make the gameplay fast and fluid.

There’s also a good chunk of replayability, which is excellent for a title that’s shorter in duration like this. Each stage features an upgrade for Kai that will either extend your life gauge or give you more uses of Burst throughout the levels. Each stage also features 8 robots in need of rescue, usually hidden off the main path, and each bot you rescue will give you a token that you can spend to acquire more mod chips. There’s also more than one difficulty level, so players who want to experience a more challenging game can play hard mode, and to add on top of this, you get medals dependent on whether you clear a stage without damage or simply defeat the boss without getting hit. If you’re a completionist, Gravity Circuit will keep you occupied for 20+ hours.

Gravity Circuit is a game that can provide a solid challenge to those of us experienced with 2D platformers, but it can also be incredibly accessible for those who may enjoy these kinds of titles but simply aren’t very good at them. It’s very rare that a game can be such a solid recommendation across the board in regards to player skill level. And because of that, Gravity Circuit is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for a way to spend a few hours this weekend.

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