Gravity Circuit‘s demo immediately caught my eye when it came out for the Steam Next Fest. I love the Mega Man X series, and seeing a title that was clearly inspired by it made me really curious. Right as I was finishing the demo, I was given the opportunity to review the game, which I just couldn’t pass up.
Gravity Circuit‘s story centers around Kai, one of the nine circuits who make up the guardian corps. The entire guardian corps goes missing at some point, with Kai’s body being found in an almost destroyed state. After almost a decade, he wakes up the new guardian corps, where he is revered as a legendary hero, but all of his past comrades have turned evil.
Gravity Circuit wears its influences proudly, with its art direction and level design clearly taking after the Mega Man X series. However, there is one key difference, which is Kai’s gameplay.
Developer: Domesticated Ant Games
Publisher: PID Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: July 13th, 2023
Instead of using ranged energy beams, Kai deals with his enemies up close. He has multiple melee attacks that can change depending on the input direction, giving him a dropkick when holding down or a bicycle kick when holding up, and this also applies to his super moves.
Rather than gaining sub-weapons, Kai gains new super moves after defeating a boss, which can be assigned in four different directions. These abilities range from useful power-ups, like a double jump, to more offensive skills, like a piledriver.
On top of his melee attacks, Kai also has a grappling hook, which he can use to move around the stage or to throw defeated enemies. The grappling hook adds a really fun layer to the game’s movement system, and it’s used in some pretty creative sections throughout the game.
Most of the stages are also really varied and have some fantastic music, with my personal favorite being the junkyard level’s theme (go give it a listen; it’s great). Each level has an easy first half that introduces us to the mechanics, and then it ramps up in difficulty to test the player’s mechanical understanding and skills.
The tricky Mega Man X platforming with wall jumps, slides, disappearing platforms, spike traps, and lava pits is still present, but Gravity Circuit isn’t nearly as brutal as the series that it is inspired by.
Spikes and pitfalls don’t kill you instantly, and the game’s respawns are pretty generous, even letting the player heal to full health by paying a small sum of money. It’s a really forgiving game in general, but it does ramp up in difficulty towards the end.
Gravity Circuit‘s bumps don’t really suffer from the problem that the Mega Man’s bumps have, where some of them are based on really simple concepts. Not only does each circuit have a really distinct theme, but their levels are really unique both thematically and mechanically.
Kai is amnesiac but can learn more about the personalities and motives of each circuit by talking to people around the guardian corps base. This gives us some small pieces of plot that we can piece together, as well as a glimpse into the dynamic circuits when they used to work together.
It adds layers to the story when we learn that one of the bigger and most intimidating bosses was very level-headed and served as the mediator for the group most of the time; despite being robots, all of the circuits have unique mannerisms and personalities that come through nicely.
The characters at the guardian corps headquarters also manage to be equally interesting. Gravity Circuit in general manages to do a great job with characterization, making even the random grunts hanging around the base fun characters to interact with.
The fact that Kai has a history with all of them also gives the story some added width; the game never lets us forget that the circuits used to work together as a team and that Kai now has a responsibility to the new guardian corps.
Around this part in the review is where I would highlight what I disliked about Gravity Circuit, but honestly, I have nothing aside from very minor gripes. The game’s character designs are fantastic, the plot has some really interesting twists, the level design is fantastic, and the gameplay is beyond tight.
It’s honestly a bit hard to critique a game when it barely has any flaws. The only two gripes that I have with Gravity Circuit are very small and feel more like nitpicks than anything else. My first issue is that I miss boss weapons and wish they were present alongside the boss moves.
Gravity Circuit‘s special moves are really good, don’t get me wrong, but one of my favorite things about the Mega Man X franchise are the boss weapons, and with such cool boss designs, I wish we would get some of their gear as well.
Kai’s gameplay remains mostly the same from the beginning of the game to the end, and I feel like getting some pieces of equipment from the defeated circuits would be interesting, free idea for the sequel if the developers are reading this.
My second issue is that the game is a bit short; it clocks in at a little under 5 hours, which is not that long, but it’s also pretty in line with the Mega Man X games. They are usually easy to zoom by if you know what you are doing, and your playtime will only get extended if you are really struggling with some stages.
Upon beating the game, we unlock the New Game+ difficulty and circuit mode, which unfortunately isn’t a mode where you get to play as the other characters. It only seems to let Kai exchange energy for health, which is fine, but with a name like that, I was way too excited and then immediately disappointed.
I do hope we get some DLC or any type of extra content in the future where we get to play as the other circuits, since their designs and moves are worthy of standalone games, so here’s hoping that some of the game’s bosses get the Shovel Knight DLC processing.
It’s easy to see the amount of care that went into Gravity Circuit; it’s a fantastic love letter to the Mega Man franchise, it plays very well, has a surprisingly good plot and features some fantastic character designs. I really want to see more of this game in the future, be it in a DLC or sequel.
Gravity Circuit was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a game code provided by PID Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Gravity Circuit is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).