VICIOUS CIRCLE
Fried eggs will burn.


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
15/08/19

Navigating the environment doesn’t feel very slick, and the character abilities are in need of balance.

The voiceover work is top notch, which you’d expect from the same house that produced Red vs. Blue.

More maps and modes will likely prove to be critical additions, as although the game is frantic fun, it’s lacking content at launch.  

The character designs and art style are great, even if it’s not pushing any technical boundaries.

THE LAST WORD

Vicious Circle is a raucous first step, and a solid foundation for future updates.  

THE FINAL SCORE

3/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

3 out of 5 is GOOD.

Something with this rating is absolutely worth checking out, but it’s flawed with a couple of mis-steps.

*Reviewed on PC, with a copy provided by Rooster Teeth Games.*


The ARENA LAMP badge is for a game with a weapon / ability that is far too overpowered.

The TUVOK’S EARS badge is for a game with gameplay mechanics that are clearly communicated to the player.   


The DIE ALREADY! badge is for a game where enemies react like sponges to weapon hits.

The KILLJOYS badge is for a game where you can deliberately make it so other players have a miserable time.

The BARREL OF LAUGHS badge is for when a game boasts a keen, sharp wit and several laugh out loud moments.

The LEAVES ON THE LINE badge is for a game where awkwardly placed geometry and/or bad level design causes you to get unintentionally stuck.

The SLIM PICKINGS badge is for a game that is lacking in content.


IS IT FUN?

*Absolutely. But it’s also quite overwhelming.*

As a mercenary, you can choose between four different characters, which each have distinct weapons and abilities. Since the monster (and any remaining Lil’ Dippers) can see you through walls, you’ll rely heavily on your unique defensive strengths to dodge their attacks. It’s fun to experiment with the different classes, and the characters are visually distinct, which helps you identify other players amid the chaos. Even though there’s no friendly fire on the mercenaries side, you can seal doors to briefly restrict other players movement, potentially halting their escape from the monster. You can also hit folks with consumable gadgets that hinder their progress (and make them drop nuggets), and even melee people into environmental hazards! The game very much encourages fowl play. The odds are often stacked against you, which provides a satisfying challenge, but can also frustrate.  

Vicious Circle revels in its absurdity; a chaotic arcade shooter experience that’s like a cross between Overwatch and Cel Damage. The heavily stylised character design, broad comedic voiceover dialogue, and slapstick combat animation all come together to form a game that is unashamedly brash. Although lacking in content at launch, there’s a solid foundation here. Each round of “Cutthroat” features a total of five players. One is randomly nominated to be the monster, tasked with eliminating any remaining mercenaries before they gather enough nuggets to escape the map and win the match. Death isn’t the end here, since if you’re eliminated, you respawn as a discount face hugger alien (referred to as a Lil’ Dipper) and attempt to possess one of your still breathing competitors, for a chance to return to the fight. There’s a lot going on, and more than one way to succeed.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*Yes. But prepare to die on the regular.*

I’ve had several standout moments playing Vicious Circle. Sealing a door on a mercenary who had been spamming me with shock grenades, only for him to be fatally trapped with the monster, was quite delicious. Some near miss dodges using the various jump pads and speedy tubes, despite my eventual escape attempts being foiled, is another example of haphazard silliness. I tend to use the crouch / hide mechanic quite often, which mitigates your “visibility through walls” disadvantage. One or two close calls with the big bad definitely made me pause for breath. There’s a lot of strong ideas at play here, but you should absolutely prepare yourself to spend a lot of time as a Lil’ Dipper for a good chunk of your first few rounds. It’s very easy to get suddenly overwhelmed, as most maps aren’t particularly large.

This is referred to by the games narrator as an intergalactic zit.

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Yes, and it mostly relates to balance.*  

There’s an overriding sense that Vicious Circle is in desperate need of significant balance tweaks across the board. I think the monsters dash ability, which has a massive travel distance and an extremely short cool down, is far too lethal. Since its close range melee attack is equally devastating, its much too overpowered. This has led to some particularly infuriating instances where I’ve been stuck on scenery items, only to be bombarded with little hope of escape. Infact, mercenary character abilities are also in desperate need of buffing, and are often rendered useless when things really go off the chain. There’s a lot of smaller things that definitely stood out for the wrong reasons; the excessive length of the end of match timer, the lack of map / game mode variation, limited selection of playable heroes, and an unshakeable feeling that Vicious Circle is often more about luck than skill.

NEXT STEPS?

*The already announced roadmap is the right way to go.*

Despite the aforementioned sorely needed adjustments, fresh content is definitely the most important thing going forward. As a multiplayer only title priced on the lower end of the spectrum, but definitely NOT free to play, Rooster Teeth Games have to keep their player base engaged with new maps, game modes etc… if they want Vicious Circle to have legs. There’s only four maps at launch, which feels a tad slight. I’d be hesitant for them to add more heroes until the existing selection have had their stats refreshed. The fact that all future updates will be free is definitely the right approach, and is a sign of good things to come. I think it’s to Rooster Teeth’s credit that they’re willing to double down on their new IP, and hopefully with a bit more meat on the bone, Vicious Circle will evolve into a more substantial package.

THE BASICS - Asymmetric multiplayer only title, with lots of looting and “accidental” betrayal.    

PLATFORMS - PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 0, Online - 5

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - There is no traditional single player campaign, although narrative elements are woven into multiplayer / tutorial.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - A free battle pass of cosmetic items, and two upcoming seasons of free updates, including new maps, items, and characters.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

These eggs will burn you.

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