Review: Subsurface Circular

Have you ever ridden a subway? It’s strange thing where no-one talks unless they know the person in question, and sometimes even then they don’t communicate. In my opinion it is one of the stranger things humans do, and it begs the question what is happening behind the scenes. Subsurface Circular, the new game from Thomas Was Alone and Volume creator Bithell Games, hones in on this idea, and develops a compelling yarn as the characters ride the titular train system.

The main difference here is that the occupants of the train cars on the subsurface circular are androids called ‘Teks’. These robots are real characters, they have back stories, thoughts and feelings not necessarily governed by just programming, but look like more classical robot designs. There isn’t any of the ‘you can’t tell they aren’t human by looking’ nonsense that permeates so much of robots with feelings media. No, these are robots, they just think and feel.

You play as the geo-locked Theta One One (it is possible to change the name but I stuck with this), which means he can’t leave the train. Theta is a detective, who starts to investigate disappearing Teks after a passenger informs him a friend of his is missing. Thus, you embark on what is essentially a very pretty text adventure to determine the cause of these disappearances, and it will throw twists and turns your way.

It’s the writing that is the draw here. The developers previous games have all managed to create atmosphere and personal stories via tremendous writing, which transcends relatively simple visuals to create believable worlds and characters and it is no different here. Theta is a detective, he detects, using conversations to uncover new ways to talk to one character or another and slowly figure out the truth of the case.

Each character interacted with is a unique individual, not just in terms of the assigned job they have, but also their characteristics. One memorable character has an emotional connection to his partner, and I mean that literally. All his emotional comes from the other character, so by talking to that Tek and getting them angry, you then get the corresponding response from the other.

It might not sound like a big thing, but in a game as short as Subsurface Circular it’s these things that make a big difference. Whenever playing I was drawn into the world, and while you could argue the actual plot isn’t the most stunning thing ever made, and to be fair it isn’t, the things around it make for a fascinating version of the future.

I don’t want to talk too much more about the story as I would quickly head into spoiler territory. The moment to moment gameplay is you as Theta One One picking which nearby character to interact with, then selecting from a list of chat options. If those types of games aren’t ones you like, then perhaps move along because Subsurface Circular won’t change your mind.

There are small improvements to help you along though. A hint system is available from the get go if you get stuck, and it is possible to change the speed with which the text is displayed on screen, which helps with the pacing. The biggest thing it does, which again might not seem like much, is that what you select to say is what you actually say. Too often games like this will give you an option to respond with a certain thing like “I don’t like that”, but when you select it, what you actually get is a paragraph of dialog that can seem out of context with the conversation.

In this game, if you select “I don’t like that”, Theta will say that exact phrase, and get the corresponding response. More games need to do it like this, simply because if you’re anything like me then you already started to think about how that phrase would be said and how the conversation might play out, not always getting it right but sometimes. It is so simple, and yet such great a thing to have.

As I said if you don’t like text adventures, dialog wheels or robots, then this isn’t for you. If you want something to play on your switch for a couple of hours that will net you an interesting world and cool if not stellar story, then pick this up, it is definitely worth it.

Review: Splatoon 2


When the original Splatoon was announced, everyone was, frankly, confused. Nintendo? Doing a shooter? A collective WTF went up from fans and games press a like. However, as people started to play, get a feel for it, it became apparently that the house that Mario built was actually onto something.

The genius of that original game is that while yes, it is a shooter and an online one at that, it didn’t attempt to follow the path of the giants such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. While you can kill members of the original team, that is not the point. Instead, covering as much of the map as possible is the way to victory, at least in the regular battle mode.

Matches lasted just three minutes, lending the game a snappy feel. It was the shooter people who don’t like shooters should play and became an instant hit upon its release, this was due to pitch perfect gameplay and the fact it was an original IP from Nintendo.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the portable/console hybrid known as The Switch needs games. So what do we get? New IP? Of course not, we get the sequel to Nintendo’s first ever shooter and it is just the game the system needs.

Splatoon 2 is, and this especially applies if you didn’t play the first game, a must buy. The same core mechanics and pitch perfect gameplay see you running and swimming around various maps trying to cover everything in your team’s colour or compete in the more objective based modes once you unlock ranked battles.


To be honest, this is all the game needs. The gameplay is so good that while, yes very little has actually changed in terms of what you do, frankly it doesn’t need to, it is always fun playing matches and it's an online game where by default voice chat is disabled which means that the b.s you might have dealt with before goes away almost instantly.

The game's biggest problem is that those that still have a Wii U hooked up and a copy of the original might find it difficult to justify buying a new console to play a sequel with so little new things to do, and those that already own a Switch but played the original might find it tough to pay another chunk of money for what is essentially the same game.

The changes that are there, such as new weapons, clothing, the ability to change hairstyles are cool but don’t fix fundamental problems with the design. You still have to back all the way of of the lobby and return to the main hub to change weapons and gear for example, but I never found it so bad that it was a huge deal, and in that particular instance you tend to find the best weapon for you and stick with it no matter anyway.

The new Salmon run mode, this game's version of a horde mode, is only open at certain times for some insane reason that no one can quite figure out and frankly, is something you have played a thousand times before. The single player is good and has some great looking boss battles, helped by the bump to 1080p and 60fps, but is the same format as the first game.


The changes made to how certain weapons work and how that would affect the deeper strategy of a match will only be really relevant to the hardcore players who spent hours with the first game, learning all the secrets and wanting to translate to the sequel. The casual crowd might be disappointed with a graphics bump and a couple of new weapons and maps.

So far, this is the only way that you can still view anything resembling the old Miiverse from the Wii U, one of the more intresting aspects of the platform. It is relegated to thought bubbles above peoples heads in the lobby, but is a fun throw back none the less. 

Ultimately, Splatoon 2 is a better looking rehash of the first game. The could have called it Splatoon HD  and added in the extra’s in as a bonus to get people to invest and it probably would have worked well for them, but that isn’t to say it isn’t a great game anyway. The gameplay that made the first so good is still intact and sees it through, but I can easily see why people might be reluctant to invest in this. I think it’s great, it just has some strange quirks that are annoying but not unassailable.