Subsurface Circular First Impressions: A Text-Based Adventure That Might Not be for Everyone

Game: Subsurface Circular

Publisher: Bithell Games

Developer: Bithell Games

Reviewed: Nintendo Switch

Subsurface Circular comes from well-known game developer Mike Bithell. You might remember Bithell from games such as Thomas Was Alone and Volume. Those titles were great in their own respective right and now Bithell changes course 360 with his latest game – Subsurface Circular.

Thomas Was Alone and Volume was similar to each other due to the sheer fact the game consisted of some actual gameplay; in Subsurface Circular players will be treated to an all dialogue text-based adventure. The game has players completing conversations, following clues, and picking up on minor details you might have missed the previous run.

I’ll come straight out and say in early on, if you aren’t in for a slower style of game, with a bigger build up to the finale, I would suggest skipping this game. Its a very slow, text-heavy game, and I know that isn’t for everyone. Some gamers like to jump in and have movement, action, or platforming sequences to complete. Subsurface Circular is the total opposite from that, but if you do give it a shot, it just might be worth it.

Subsurface Circular is set in the future where robots carry out normal jobs like humans do: lawyers, doctors, and detectives. In this particular event, we play as a robot detective working out a case through the subsurface facility. Players will talk with strangers on trains to find out all the information they could so that their case could be solved.

Throughout the game, players will have hard choices to make, but coming from a game with primarily only text gameplay, this is to be expected. Choose what to say each time, further the conversation or know when to end it, these are all things the player will have to learn throughout their time with the game.

One disappointing feature I did notice was that sometimes regardless of what type of answer you choose to respond with, the game will almost always have you end up where it wants you to. So let’s say you answer someone snarky or with sarcasm, the end result would end the same in both scenarios. This makes the game more linear and easier for the developer to convey the story they wanted to tell, but with story-based adventures like this, I personally like to see a little variance in my choices.

I want my choices to mean something, I want them to change the ending completely, so when I talk to someone else about the game, we could discuss our two endings and be like wow mine was totally different than yours. That type of feature adds more value and substance to the game, however, Subsurface Circular still remains fun until the end regardless.

Switching gears to other portions of the game: Subsurface Circular has a very clean and elegant look to it. The robots look unique and their designs look futuristic. It’s a nice feeling to start the game and see such a clear and clean UI, especially a game with so much text.

This is almost a standard by now when reviewing Switch games, but having this title on the Switch works better than it would on another platform. I wouldn’t call this a boring game, but a slower paced game with more reading then the gameplay is better played on a handheld device whenever and wherever the user wants. The portable functionality of the game might be one of the reasons for someone to go pick up this game.

Subsurface is a generally fun and interesting game to play through. Its mysteries and dialogue choices keep players entertained throughout the game and the payoff, in the end, will be worth it. However, if you are against slower text-based adventures, I’ll say it again, avoid the game at all cost. You will simply be wasting your time. This game isn’t for everyone and that’s fine.

Have you played Subsurface Circular yet? Did you pick it up on the Nintendo Switch? Let us know what you think about the game down below!

Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.