Circadia is a briliant iOS puzzle game where failure is just as satisfying as success
Circadia is simple to learn. The colored dots emit waves and a tone when you tap them, and the waves must touch the white dot on the screen at the same time. This concept gets slightly more complex as the game continues and more white points are added to the screen, but the core concept remains the same. You tap the colored points, adjust your time to take into account the speed of each wave, and there you go.
“The idea came while I was thinking about a game where you drop stones into a pond. The stones cause ripples that crawl across the lake,” Kurt Bieg, the game’s creator, told the Penny Arcade Report. “If there was a rock in the center, you would have to time when and where you drop the stones into the lake to make the ripples converge on the rock at the same time.” The original title was Ripplz. We should take a moment to reflect on that particular dodged bullet.
Circadia is entrancing due to the minimalist graphics and the purity of the sounds and shapes that are produced by your interactions. If you time your waves incorrectly… nothing happens. You simply adjust your taps and try again. There is no failure screen, and no ticking clock. There is no music that speeds up or slows down. You are given all the time you need to play each level. Each failed attempt gives you slightly more information about how the taps should be timed. It’s one of the rare games where failure is relaxing.
“The ‘no fail’ puzzle emerged organically actually,” Bieg explained. People were playing the game in long sessions even during the early prototype stages, and he wanted to know why. “Although the mechanic itself is extremely engaging, I observed that part of the reason was that retrying a puzzle didn’t cost the player anything at all. Therefore they were free to experiment and lose themselves in it without concern about losing progress or time. Each attempt the player is learning something new about the puzzle.” This became a central theme to the design: there is nothing about the game that judges your performances. You are just asked to interact. The only reward is another puzzle. There is no punishment.
“Circadia never corrects you, there are no timers to cause you guilt, and no points meant to make you feel inadequate,” Bieg said. “What you put in is what you get out.” This may frustrate players who are competitive or are looking for something a little more thrilling, but if you’re playing on a plane or other stressful situation, this is an easy way to relax and get your heart rate down. What’s more important is that the game is actually fun; there is a large amount of satisfaction to be found in finishing each level.
This $1 sale price should make a purchase a no-brainer if you like puzzle games or are simply dealing with too much stress in your life. “Before you release a game, go to a Starbucks and find the most impatient business person,” Bieg said. “Ask them to play it for 5 minutes.” If you have a good game, the results will speak for themselves.