South of the Circle, from State of Play and 11 Bit Studios, is a self-described “emotional narrative experience” following the tale of Peter and Clara. The story’s protagonists, Peter and Clara, are two academics from Cambridge that get caught up in Cold War-era Antarctica. Yup, that’s right, the frigid south somehow gets drawn into the mix and everything really escalates from there.
South of the Circle kicks off with a plane crash in Antarctica that quickly introduces players to the main character and his travel companion who have just crash landed into a flurry of snow and ice. You’re then tasked with venturing forth through the cold towards an expedition base to seek help.
South of the Circle then immediately transitions into a flashback sequence of sorts, which delves deeper into the main character’s own history that led to him ending up in Antarctica. It’s masterfully done with the transitions between the past and the present being worked into the story seamlessly. The first few times this happens, you’ll be awestruck at how well it works.
Players will be able to make many choices throughout the game using the game’s colour-coded dialogue system. You can choose an emotionally happy response, a neutral response, a positive response, or an aggressive response. Not all these options are available at all times though, and some conversations have a limited range of responses that will alter the story.
Emotional and story-driven
Players who are fans of emotional, story-driven games will most likely love South of the Circle and this is a game that really shouldn’t be overlooked. The storytelling experience is helped by some great voice acting from a cast that’s worked on some big-name productions over the years.
The voice acting in South of the Circle is spot-on, with plenty of truly convincing British accents featured in the game. It’s so much easier for players to feel a bond with the characters that they are interacting with thanks to the phenomenal performances. Peter and Clara’s relationship, in particular, deserves a special mention since it’s been written in such an amazing way with both their respective voice actors pulling it off believeably.
It helps that the overall writing quality in South of the Circle is excellent, with a story that slowly builds up from two points of view. The Cold War story aspects also show through quite a bit and this adds to the intrigue. The past and the present are intertwined, and the overarching tale ties things up perfectly. Without spoiling too much, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a game with some of the writing hitting very close to home – even more so if you’ve ever worked in academia and can understand the nuances of what Peter and Clara talk about when it comes to research and publishing papers.
The environmental storytelling in South of the Circle is a key aspect of the title and the gorgeous locales really help carry the game forward. While the game features a very minimalist art style, it still looks strikingly beautiful and the character models are well animated too.
South of the Circle also features a great atmospheric soundtrack that really helps to elevate its storytelling. The music that plays throughout the game and the ambience all contribute to the amazing narrative it builds up and delivers on.
Overall, South of the Circle is a game that should definitely be on your radar. If you’re a fan of similar titles that present some truly hard-hitting moral dilemmas that’ll weigh heavily on your conscience, consider picking this up. The entire game is best played in one sitting given how captivating the story is. Even without in-depth gameplay mechanics and limited choice-based elements, it is an example of fantastic storytelling and should not be overlooked. Given the insane number of games coming out these days, South of the Circle is likely to become a hidden gem and one that all fans of great stories should play. It comes highly recommended from us.
A review code for South of the Circle was provided to gameblur by the publisher
South of the Circle (PC) ReviewSouth of the Circle (PC) Review
Story10/10 The Best
Graphics8/10 Very Good
Sound8/10 Very Good
- A captivating story
- Environmental design
- Quality voice acting
- Can't always select the exact dialogue for responses
- Gameplay is quite simplistic