Gravity Circuit from developer Domesticated Ant Games and Publisher PID Games is a love letter to the Mega Man games of yore. It was available to play at the PID Games booth and was the first I played at PAX East.
You play as Kai, a lone warrior battling an evil robotic army in a post-apocalyptic world. Not much else in known plot wise, although when you encounter the stage boss, some back and forth dialogue happens before doing battle which does provide some hints on the game’s backstory.
The gameplay loop follows the 8 robot masters formula from games you know. Each level being themed in a unique way. The two playable levels were based on electricity and fire respectively with each one culminating into a boss battle. It’s probably safe to assume once you fell all eight robots, a final boss stage and a boss rush is likely to happen.
In the demo, a tutorial is available to teach you the basics. Running, jumping, hookshot mechanics and a few other basic maneuvers and you’re ready to tackle the game. It’s worth going through but not necessary if you just want to get straight to the action. The controls and moves are fairly intuitive.
Once you choose a stage, you drop in after a short animation. Stages are laid out in typical Mega Man fashion run left to right, up and down through the level and end up at the boss room. Each stage is filled with enemies and cleverly placed environmental hazards, sometimes pitting you against both in harder sections. Thankfully, multiple checkpoints are littered throughout the levels. You can also regain health and your power meter in exchange for 100 of whatever the game’s currency is. Based on the trailer, it looks like there is a shop where you can use your accrued money to buy additional items and special techniques.
Levels are set up in a way to encourage exploration. Cracks in the walls and multiple passageways filled with secret areas and allies to rescue ensure that the curious and completionsts will want to check out. For your reward, you can be granted extra currency, power meter or health.
Gravity Circuit’s gameplay feels smooth and polished as well as varied. Kai’s main attack is a punch combo which has decent range and oomph. He can also use his hookshot to grapple onto walls and ceilings as well as use in a offensive manor. You can attack with it and on the final blow, can grab some of the enemies, hold them and toss them as a projectile toward other enemies or environmental hazards. Wall jumping, sliding and edge hanging if you’re at the top of the wall or ledge are also in your arsenal. If I had one criticism here it’s that wall jumping feels too heavy as you don’t gain much height nor does it encourage bouncing between each wall when your in tight spaces. While hugging the walls, you slide down the wall slowly allowing you to attack or maneuver effectively which does feel satisfying. All in all, the developers certainly took the time to ensure the gameplay feels good and the movesets are varied.
Beyond all of the universal moves, you also have special abilities and power moves you can equip. The demo gives you bunch of each to equip and experiment with off the bat. Abilities range from double jumping to iframes when using the slide technique to extending the range of your basic attack. You can swap these out at anytime as long as they have been purchased in the shop. Power moves require meter. A bar below your health can hold up to three charges and it takes one charge to use one move. Depending on which direction you hold, you’ll do one of the three equipped moves. These do a burst of damage good for clearing enemies within a difficult section or ticking down the health of boss. Both of these mechanics are a welcome addition to the action platformer and add some variety to the gameplay.
The soundtrack is another high point in the demo and is fitting to the 8/16 bit graphics and fast platforming and shooting. High energy, chiptune style music accompany you as you blaze through each level. Great in the game and great to listen to on their own. Looking forward to see what’s in the full game soundtrack when it releases.
Gravity Circuit is coming to PS4, PS5, Switch and PC and the demo for Gravity Circuit is available on Steam now if you’re interested in giving it a go.