Gravity Circuit Review – Addictive 2D Action

    Title: Gravity Circuit
    Developer: Domesticated Ant Games
    Release Date: July 13, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: PID Games
    Genre: 2D Action

You don’t have to look hard to find a Mega Man clone. The indie development space is full of 2D action games that mimic the Blue Bomber, which is needed given that Capcom doesn’t seem to know what to do with the IP. However, developer Domesticated Ant Games takes a different approach to the genre in their newest game Gravity Circuit. Here, they’ve effectively removed some of the constraints of movement and attacks while also removing one of the main actions of all Mega Man titles, the Mega Buster. However, that doesn’t seem to hold back this addictive and challenging experience.

Gravity Circuit has a story, but I’d say the intro acts only as a way to get you straight into the action. Evidently, the Virus Army is trying to take over the world but was stopped by a group of robots with the power of Gravity Circuit. While they won the war, only one of the heroes remains in an operational state. For no real reason, the Virus Army is back, and the only remaining hero, Kai, is awakened, only to discover that his previous colleagues are now a part of the Virus Army.

The narrative becomes a bit more complex as new characters are introduced. You can also speak with members of the Guardian Corp around the base who give context to the current state of events. Further, other mysterious robots appear who seem to know more than they let on. There are a couple of twists, but you’ll likely see them coming as you near the end of the game. Regardless, the narrative does more than I thought; even the selectable missions give context as to why you are going there.

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Kai is pretty much a badass through and through. He doesn’t rely on ranged weapons like guns or lasers and instead opts to utilize melee-based combo attacks. For retro enthusiasts, this may take some getting used to as the action system requires you to get close to the danger and strategize when to move in for an attack. Further, melee attack combinations are determined by directional inputs along with optional follow-up attacks that allow you to grapple the enemy and throw them.

The grappling action is used for much more than climbing up walls. You can use the tool to cause damage to enemies and reach far-away items. Over time, it becomes an extension of your combos and should be incorporated into your arsenal of movement actions. Similar to early Mega Man games, you can speed your way passed most encounters to avoid damage or take things slowly, given that you aren’t timed.

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However, the action doesn’t stop there. Throughout each level, you can save citizens hidden across the stage. Oftentimes these require you to get through some complex platforming section, but I found it to be a nice way to test your skills. Saving citizens is also required if you wish to learn new passive abilities.

Passive circuits allow you to fine-tune Kai with added bonuses that can speed up attacks, allow you to grip the walls without sliding down, add a double jump, or even increase your defenses to certain attacks. There’s a lot to choose from, but I feel like these optional accessibility features reward those who explore everything within the stage.

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That said, the upgrades don’t stop at passive abilities. It’s also possible to purchase other abilities that are tied to a Burst action with a directional button press. These are all pretty powerful moves, which is likely why you can only use them a limited number of times before you need to recharge.

Still, they can do things like fire out a cannon, counterattack, dash, or even suplex an enemy. However, I do wish there was a training station for these before you purchase them. While there is a short description, the use case needs to be learned through practice, but since they’re limited, it’s tough to get a grasp on a proper load out.

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The game features 12 stages, with each offering a variety of enemy types and level gimmicks. I would say the number of enemies is low, but they each prove to be great at their job of causing damage. These levels have a noticeable rhythm to them that feels so cathartic while you make your way through the chaos.

While you’re able to choose which robot you want to fight, some levels are definitely more challenging than others. I made the mistake of playing what I felt were the toughest levels of the game first, which made the other stages feel easy in comparison. Still, there are optional difficulty settings, but I will say this game is tough no matter which you play on.

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The platforming sections push your timing with precision jumps, which is made more challenging as bombs are thrown at you. Interestingly, you can hit back some enemy missiles to cause damage to them. Each level has a few checkpoints where you can spend money to refill your life bar. One feature I liked is that if you save a citizen and die, you don’t have to save them again after returning from a checkpoint. The idea here is to make sure you at least get a little further, which encourages you to keep going even after consecutive deaths.

The boss battles also take some getting used to. They act as an evolution of the gimmicks faced throughout the levels and also have a new pattern of attacks after their life bar is lowered. I enjoyed every fight and felt like a true gamer after clearing the final act, which is almost an endurance race against some exceptionally tough encounters. To compliment all the action is a great soundtrack of some retro tunes.

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Gravity Circuit redefines the 2D platforming action genre with attention put on melee action systems that benefit all other aspects of the experience. Your skills are constantly being pushed to the test, but you aren’t allowed to get too comfortable as new abilities are unlocked with ever-changing level gimmicks keeping you on your toes. One look at this game in action, and it’s no surprise that it’s a must-play release of 2023.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.