Reviews

Circadian City (Early Access)

Ever since Stardew Valley came out, there has been a lot of attempts to replicate their success and new farming simulators have popped up regularly since then. Let us be honest, farming simulators are a dime a dozen, but once in a while a real gem arises from the pack. The publisher Way Down Deep has partnered with Nowhere Studios to develop Circadian City. Nowhere Studios are also known for developing the puzzle-platformer Monochroma. Circadian City is a life/farming simulation with RPG elements. If you are looking for something new then you are in for a treat. The developers have combined a life simulator with a nightly farming simulator that let you escape your dreary life through your dreams.

You have just graduated from college, and you are ready to start a new life in a brand new city. The game starts at the train station. The caring man in the ticket booth gives you a short tutorial to show you the ropes. Following a short train ride you finally see the city for the first time. Once you arrive at your destination and see your apartment, you have a chat with the building manager. You make your way to your new workplace to learn about your job and meet several co-workers. From there the goal is to go about your life, eat, work, learn new interests, and entertain yourself. You will also have to fulfill a series of quests given to you by the citizens of Circadian City. You will meet different people, make friends, and maybe even find love. The most important aspect will be to manage your stress because keeping your stress level low will ensure that you stay productive at work.

That part of the game is interesting enough but the real adventure begins when you go to sleep. That is when you enter the dreamworld. To put the concept in perspective here is what the developer has to say about the game, “We want Circadian City to reflect the real world cycle of how the events of our day affect the quality of our sleep, which in turn affects how the following day goes.” Your daytime emotions will affect what happens at night, which is when you will shape your personality. I really love the fact that night and day gameplay are intricately linked. During the day, the gameplay is a rather realistic simulation, while at night it is all about fantasy. After all dreamworld takes place in your head. You can farm, mine, create different potions, or even become a rancher. There is a whole cast of characters to meet, and each is more quirky than the next. It is interesting to know that while your day life will be shaped depending on your interests, the night time is completely procedurally generated. You will have a different experience every time you go to bed just like in real life.

The concept is inventive and engaging. The developers have succeeded at blending the worlds of day and night together into a seamless experience. I enjoyed playing both parts of the game. The daytime is similar to a typical life simulator with one significant difference. The only characters you can become friends with and eventually romantically involved with will have the same interest as you. For this reason you will want to be strategic when choosing your interests and/or learning new ones at the school. I had fun doing the daytime quests and activities but the game shines once you go to sleep. The world is interesting and everything you will do or see while in dreamworld has a fantasist twist to it. You will be shaping your personality while in this world with a personality tree. It will impact what you do while awake.

The game has some colorful pixel-art. I always thought that pixel-art is the perfect medium to depict a farming simulator, and it fits well for Circadian City. I like seeing the subtle differences between the two distinct realms. The daytime world is realistic featuring city views full of buildings, whereas the night time world is fantastical and filled with surreal landscapes. The color choice reflects that very well with its rainbow palette as opposed to the more subdued day time colors. However it would have been interesting if the two realms would have been more visually contrasting. One aspect of the graphics that surprised me is the character selection. I have to admit that I was amazed at how horrendous my character looked while creating it. Thankfully it did not reflect in game because the size of the character is so much smaller. It is something that could be reworked, but it does not detract from the game.

I have to specify that the game is still in Early Access, and being actively developed. There are still several areas that are yet to be implemented. Especially in the dreamworld I came across several places that said, “It says it will be activated during Early Access. No clue about what that means.” Nonetheless for an Early Access game Circadian City has quite a lot of gameplay. In its present state, there are several hours of enjoyable gameplay, but obviously it will be much more fun when it is finished. Despite the game being recently released there is already a significant established community surrounding it. It is always great to witness a developer that is active with fixing bugs and adding new content. This developer however takes it one step further by asking players to share their ideas. The best of them will be implemented in game. It is a remarkable idea to involve players because it is bound to add varied content that will cater to everyones taste.

I did not see many negative aspects to the game, but one feature I believe could be improved are the dialogues. I found them to be very generic. I do not know if the developer plans to add to them, or rework the content already present. It would be interesting to see more in-depth dialogues. The foremost part of the day time gameplay is the relationships that you will create with different characters, so it would be nice to see more original and extensive dialogues. Otherwise it can be monotonous at times. Taking into account the game status, it is pretty normal that the content is somewhat limited. Obviously it will be nice to see more content and I am looking forward to what will be implemented. One interesting fact is that the developer is planning on keeping the game in early access for an extended period of time and continue updating it. It bodes well for the future of Circadian City, and the amount of content it will contain.

I believe Circadian City has substantial potential. The concept is excellent, and I am looking forward to see how it is going to evolve in the coming months. It is always nice to see a proven game style get reworked into a new and inventive style. There are dozens of games coming out everyday, and it is quite an accomplishment for a developer to come up with a novel concept featuring new and creative gameplay. Fans of the farming simulator genre will surely love Circadian City. The developers are involved with the community and active in updating the game. Circadian City is a refreshing new game that has a bright future ahead and deserves to be supported.

Written by Vee