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Antarctic Memories: 'South of the Circle' Game Review

Rating: 8/10 ⭐️

This game takes place in 1960, in the midst of the Cold War, and borrows elements from real-world history like the Cambridge Five, and the Antarctic Treaty and weaves them into the story.

Peter, a Cambridge academic finds himself stranded in Antarctica following a plane crash. As he trudges through the snow, aiming for a distant blinking red light that might signify help, his memories seamlessly transition to sunlit days in Cambridge, where he walks alongside Clara, discussing their dreams and aspirations.

Clara, with her sharp intellect and passion for academia, stands out in the male-dominated environment of Cambridge. Together, they work on Peter's major dissertation, with Clara not only contributing significantly but also introducing Peter to the serene beauty of her family's cottage in the Highlands.

Peter's academic future is threatened by his association with Clara and the higher-ups take issue with putting Clara's name alongside Peter's in the dissertation. He's subtly coerced into sidelining Clara and taking sole credit for their collaborative work. He is promised unlimited funding and a chance to make further studies in Antarctica if Clara's name is dropped.

Fast forward to Antarctica, and Peter's challenges shift from emotional and moral dilemmas to immediate physical survival. The whole of Antarctica seems to be desolate, the research stations are deserted, and there are alarming signs of nuclear activity.

The question then is, will Peter survive? We live through Peter's memories and understand his relationship with Clara and their eventual falling out.

The gameplay is quite simple and pretty innovative because the dialogue system is emotions. Interaction with other characters is not selecting dialogue, instead, symbols appear on the screen, each representing a specific emotion or response. You can have a Shy, Enthusiastic, Concerned, Assertive or Caring response and the story narrative changes slightly accordingly. Whether it's panic as he awakens from the crash or hope as he trudges through the snow, you get a tangible sense of Peter's emotional state, making every decision feel impactful.

As Peter's memories unfold, "South of the Circle" delves into a theme that's universally relatable: the reliability of memory. How often do we remember events exactly as they happened? Are Peter's version of events with Clara leading up to him being stranded in Antarctica reliable?

"South of the Circle" is a narrative masterpiece. Through Peter's journey, both in the icy wilderness of Antarctica and the warm memories of Cambridge, players are treated to a story that's as thought-provoking as it is touching.

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