Mike Bithell (originally of Thomas Is Alone fame) clearly likes his surprise launches. His previous game, the short-but-sweet sci-fi mystery adventure Subsurface Circular launched onto Steam with zero fanfare or warning, but racked up no shortage of praise and awards. Today, its successor – Quarantine Circular – quietly released onto Steam, and it looks similarly great. It’s not quite a sequel, though, more a spiritual successor sharing many of the mechanics and themes of the original, but telling its own, entirely new sci-fi tale.
Wheras Subsurface Circular had you descending underground to interview robots on a transit line to solve a mystery, Quarantine Circular seems a tale on a smaller, more personal scale but with much higher stakes. Humanity is dying of an all-consuming plague. You’re part of a scientific team trying to save the species, but things take a complicated turn when a hulking great armoured alien turns up, and says that they’ve been watching humanity for some time. Guess who drew the short straw as mankind’s first interspecies diplomat?
The ‘circular’ part of the title remains for a more literal reason. The alien is being restrained with a shock collar, preventing him from leaving a helipad on the surface of your ocean research base. It’s interesting to see the elements taken so literally, and wonder if Bithell & co have any more similarly related short stories planned for the future. I could definitely stand to see an entire season’s worth of these delivered in episodic format. I’ve not watched nearly enough TV in the past few years, and I kinda miss one-shot sci-fi shows. These games might be the next best thing.
Quarantine Circular is out now on Steam for £4.79/$6, minus a generous 20% for its first week on sale, and if its predecessor is any indication, it should be just a couple hours long.