A Circle That Just Happens To Be A War Hero
Few games can seemingly do everything right, but Ellipsis is one of those games. While at first glance it may look like Super Hexagon meets Geometry Wars, it is so, so, so much more than that.
Not only does Ellipsis tell an interesting and meaningful story with no words or cutscenes, but its gameplay manages to stay interesting and creative from start to finish. That is extra impressive when you consider the whole thing is just colorful shapes on the screen being controlled with a mouse.
Ellipsis starts by just dropping the player directly into the game with no title screen and no tutorial. While it is jarring, I’d argue that is only because we are so used to being spoon-fed information like babies by many modern day game developers. Here the game naturally teaches you how to play and new mechanics along the way without a single word.
You play as a blue circle and are tasked with touching four or five (if you want to get the best rating) other circles containing a few smaller circles inside of them, then getting to the exit of the level. Touching anything that is red or green will kill, such as red triangles, lasers, and other pointy objects. One touch will end your life, forcing you to restart the level. You’ll die a lot, but restarting the level is fast and easy, only needing a couple of clicks of the mouse.
The game starts relatively simple and easy, just avoid a few basic enemies, touch the other circles and get out, before getting more and more difficult without ever being frustratingly hard; though that could vary depending on your skill level, I suppose. Over the 150 plus levels available you’ll meet enemies that follow you, shoot only when pointing at you, buttons to press, and enemies that only move when you move like in Super Hot. As each level can be completed in a few seconds (once you’ve mastered them) the whole experience can be completed in just under two hours.
Not only is the game a challenging but fun game to play, the minimalistic art style is memorable and makes it easy to identify enemies when things get a bit more hectic. It is surprising just how colorful a game with a black background can look, but when you’re surrounded by enemies, bullets, and explodes the screen is sometimes nearly filled to the edge with color.
The cherry on top of this delicious cake of a game is the story, or at least the one I perceived. To talk about it is to spoil it a bit, but I think it’s worth it just to emphasize why I’m giving this a perfect score. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know, but trust me when I say it is impressive.
“Few games can seemingly do everything right, but Ellipsis is one of those games.”
At the start of the game you, like me, will probably think you’re just playing a retro-inspired cute little indie game, but things start to reveal themselves as you play. No, you aren’t just a circle touching other circles, you’re a hero fighting an evil army and liberating your people. You see, each of the circles you have to touch has other circles in them, which can be viewed as prisoners of war. You’re also on a quest to take town the tyrant behind this evil force, who lies in wait in the center of a stronghold at the end of the game. As the developers are from Germany, and with the enemies being sharp edges that are mostly red and green, it is hard not to think of this as an allegory of World War II. Which is damned bold and impressive, but maybe I’m just thinking too much into it? Either way, I love that about Ellipsis.
An impressive story told through basic shapes and colors, addictive and constantly evolving gameplay with just the right amount of challenge, and an art style that feels just right; Ellipsis is easily the best game I’ve played so far this year and well worth a play. I mean, just look at all those zeroes down there!