Gravity Circuit looks like a Mega Man clone with a gimmick, but it executes on that premise perfectly.
- Title: Gravity Circuit
- Release Date: July 13, 2023
- Price: $21.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Everyone 10+
- Availability: Switch (reviewed), PlayStation, Steam, GOG
- Recommended for fans of: Retro Platforming, Grappling Hooks, and Sassy Robots
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Gravity Circuit doesn’t shy away from its inspirations. It’s a 16-bit styled action platformer where you play as a robot who has to battle through eight bosses in order of your choosing on your way to the final encounter. Most directly, this feels like it’s pulling from Mega Man X, but with the focus on melee combat and the addition of a grappling hook, Gravity Circuit is much more than a spiritual successor.
Punch and Grapple
Gravity Circuit kicks off with an intro level that gives you a feel for the overall structure of the game. Right away, it looks like you’ve stepped into a Mega Man game, but things get different the first time you try to attack an enemy.
There’s no Buster Cannon in Gravity Circuit, which really shifts how you approach combat. Your character is built to get up close and personal with melee combos that have heavy hit-stopping that makes each punch feel impactful while the combat still feels fast.
You can do some damage from afar with your grappling hook. It doesn’t shoot very far and doesn’t hit very far, but it can be helpful for picking off enemies that are firing projectiles from higher ground. More often, your grappling hook serves to help you move through the levels.
Shooting the grappling hook up or at 45-degree angles lets you latch onto ceilings or walls to swing across obstacles or to flip yourself up to hard-to-reach areas. There is some momentum buildup if you manage to chain grappling hook swings, but nowhere near as much as you’d see in a game focused on that mechanic, like Grapple Dog.
Visiting the Hub
After the intro level, Gravity Circuit introduces you to a home base that acts as your between-level hub for the rest of the game. There are a few NPCs to interact with here, with some fun, silly writing. I didn’t really get invested in the story through most of the game, but that was because the action was so good rather than the writing was bad.
A few of the NPCs provide utility as well as charm. You can use the currency you gather from beating up bots as well as the renown you earn from rescuing innocent characters to learn new special moves and buy upgrades.
Special moves draw from an SP bar that fills up as you destroy enemies. You can assign up to four special moves at a time (one to just hitting the special button, and one each for hitting it while pressing up, down, or laterally). I honestly didn’t find a whole lot of use for these, because the way that they moved my character felt just a little too hard to predict, given the tight platforming in most sections of the game.
Always Be Upgrading
The ability upgrades in Gravity Circuit, on the other hand, are crucial. These can help you with a huge variety of shifts in the gameplay, like a longer reach on your base attacks, by giving you a double jump, or by letting you recharge health each time you destroy an enemy. Each time you beat a level there are new upgrades for you to consider, so it’s always worth checking out.
One crucial detail I missed is that you can actually change out which upgrades you have equipped at any time, not just between levels. There were several instances where I could see a hidden pathway that I couldn’t reach and didn’t realize that I could just pause the game to sub in my double jump temporarily.
Changing out abilities mid-level is also important for the boss fights.
Eight Robot Masters
Continuing to wink heavily at the audience, the structure of Gravity Circuit lets you choose from eight levels to hunt down eight rogue robots. Unlike the Megaman games, I don't get the sense that there is an ideal route to follow through the game, but the different levels bring in different platforming mechanics to engage with and, of course, epic boss fights.
This structure comes up a lot in this genre, but this game nails the feel of individual levels way better than something like Vengeful Guardian Moonrider. The different types of challenges that can come with the grappling hook allow the game to constantly throw something fresh at you.
The boss fights themselves also have a lot of variety, and are designed on the principles of pattern recognition. When you fight a boss a few times and learn their attacks, you can sweep the floor with them without taking a hit. Thankfully, the upgrade options also allow you to beef up your attacks so that you can usually just wail on them face-to-face and come out alive.
It is very easy to think of Gravity Circuit as “just another” Mega Man clone. The game isn't shy at all about its inspirations. Still, with the focus on melee combat, the game-changing addition of a grappling hook, and abilities that you should be constantly hot-swapping, Gravity Circuit surpasses its pedigree. This is a game inspired by Mega Man, yes, but it's also just a fantastic side-scrolling action game. Anyone who grew up with the SNES will find something to like here, just don't get too frustrated when the game amps up the difficulty in the later stages.