South of the Circle

Game review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
South of the Circle Game Poster Image
Fascinating adventure will leave you thinking of its tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Stands out for positive role models.

Positive Messages

Clara advocates for equality and reinforces that women are equally capable as men. The game also focuses on loyalty and friendship as significant qualities for people to have and focus on in life.

Positive Role Models

Actions in game depend on the player, to an extent, but the main characters generally showcase positive qualities -- and Peter continues to push forward to save himself and his friend, despite having every reason to stop. 

Ease of Play

The game's interface is incredibly simple and offers some choices, but the game's largely a story that's told with some interaction.

Violence
Sex

Romance is showcased, with kissing, arms around each other, and hands on hips. 

Language

An occasional "damn" is uttered in dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the characters gets drunk toward the end of the game and openly consumes alcohol for long periods. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that South of the Circle is an adventure game available exclusively on Apple Arcade. The game's emphasis is strongly on story and very light on traditional gameplay, which could make the title polarizing among players, although it's incredibly simple to control. The story is very compelling though, and could teach younger players lessons about loyalty, equality, and friendship. Occasionally, "damn" is heard in dialogue, along with some hugging and kissing from the main characters. One character is also shown near the end of the game drinking for long periods of time, eventually getting drunk.

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What's it about?

SOUTH OF THE CIRCLE takes place in the late 1960s. After surviving a plane crash in Antarctica, Peter must fight the cold to try to find help for his colleague. As he explores nearby bases, the lines between his present and past begin to blur. He remembers key moments in his relationship with Clara, his academic professional history, and his interactions with others. The result is a blend of survival story, romance, and decision making. Players are given the ability to choose how to react to a variety of circumstances emotionally (for example, with fear, confidence or uncertainty), and while these decisions impact the story, they don't disrupt the narrative. 

Is it any good?

This adventure is anything but a traditional video game, but it's a story that will stay with you long after you finish. More an interactive narrative than a game, your decisions in South of the Circle don't result in onscreen life or death choices. The story progresses no matter which path you choose (or if you decline to make any choice at all in interactions with other characters). But the amazing voice acting and the unique art style, with motion capture performances from trained actors, makes this utterly captivating. You'll want to know how the saga of Peter and Clara ends. And you'll be convinced the game has ended a time or two before it even comes close, due to the hopeless circumstances Peter's forced to face. 

The game also explores the political environment of the early 1960s from a British perspective, and it teaches lessons about making assumptions based on stereotypes and rumors. Clara is presented as a smart, capable woman who's open to love, but also doesn't want to settle for being a 1960s housewife. Peter's reaction to that -- and loyalty to Clara -- is up to the player. The game's ending, without spoiling anything, leaves enough open questions that you'll have plenty of room for debate and discussion with others who have played it -- and believe us, you'll want to talk about it with someone. South of the Circle is a tour de force in storytelling that might not conform to standard definitions of gaming, but it's an experience you'd regret missing if you bypassed it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fragility of memory. Can you always believe what you remember?

  • Would you choose your career over loyalty to a friend? Can you tell what would be right or wrong with this kind of decision? Why do you think someone would make this kind of decision?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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