South of The Circle | PS5 Review

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Publisher: State of Play, 11 Bit Studios
Developer: State of Play, State of Play Games Limited
PS5 Review

*Disclaimer: I was sent the code for this game in return for a review, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Narrative focused games have always been my jam, these kind of games draw me into their stories like no other due to the fact that they are nearly completely story based which usually come with the choice of choosing the characters dialect/path. I highly suggest those who get bored easily from these types of games to give this one a miss. Me, personally I love them, as a reader who loves imaging what is happening on the pages playing out a narrative story makes me smile.

Players get to play as a character called Peter, he is a lecturer at Cambridge university who ends up getting stuck in Antarctica after travelling there to see if the study he carried out was accurate. The plane he is on crashes and the pilot is injured leaving him no choice but to leave the plane and find help. The soul purpose of the game is to look back on Peter's memories that brought him to Antarctica and how them choices moulded the situation he was now in. You see the study I mentioned wasn't just his, he actually had helped from a young woman name Clara who changed his life for the better, even if it's oblivious to him. 

The heart of the game is the story, sure we get to control some aspect such as walking Peter to a destination and pressing symbols that will later add up to a promise but players are just there as a guide to the next step in the story, we have no bigger impact than that which is ok with me. There isn't much in terms of controlling peter, it's all very straightforward and to the point as the game isn't focused on making us button bash, instead it wants to take us on a journey. I'm happy to take a step back and let the game make all my choices even if they do give us a choice in what are responses would be, they still make no difference in the outcome. Whilst looking back on Peter's past memories the game merges from past and present in a clever way, one minute you will be in Peter's car talking to Carla and the next you will be driving in the snow trying to find help. It felt as if Peter was haunted by his past memories and left with regrets so went over past scenarios in his head to work out how he has ended up stuck in Antarctica looking for a way out. 

Having that window into his memories made me root for him and Clara and distracted me from what could possibly happen next. On top of this Peter will face topics such as anti-war, gender, the cold war (which is when the game is set), developers managed to talk upon these topics and give us a choice of how Peter reacts to them. Do these choices reflect me as a person or am I making them based on what type of person I think Peter is? These are the kind of questions I found myself asking. What helped in making these choices were the voice actors, they carried this game especially Clara, I wanted her and Peter to be happy so I tried my best choosing what I think would be best for them both. Clara came across as someone who knows what she wants even though she is with a man that has no clue what he wants or how to approach situations, the tone in the voice actors voices comes across clearly which helps you read the room a bit more even if Peter can't. 

South of The Circle is only about 3 hours long but it's a very slow game, it has a build up which is needed in terms of the story, Peter needs time to look back on the past whilst making his way towards help even if that meant venturing further away from his friend who is hurt. Watching him find a way out of his predicament in the midst of a disaster opened up players to who he really is. Playing through the game was like turning a page in a picture book, it was a totally different way to look at someone's life in a game, I thoroughly enjoyed it but was left with even more questions than answers.

Have a cosy day


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