encircled: Wow, just wow. …

That’s a “wow” in an amazed and impressed sense, not necessarily an enthusiastic or excited one. This time it was encircled that elicited that reaction.


I suppose it’s fair to call encircled a roguelike, although it definitely has put a new spin on the genre … and that’s a very good thing.

encircled simplifies a lot of things — “combat,” as it were, is automatic, with an attack taking place at the end of each movement. There’s no “inventory” to speak of, although you’re holding two “weapons” at any given moment, and you can swap them for others on the floor around you. Movement is either through free spaces or blocked by “walls.” “Monsters” and “bosses” wander through the level, and will try their best to end you.

I put quotation marks around all those things not as some sort of code, but because those terms have connotations for people who play roguelike games, and encircled is … a little different.

Biggest example: Your “weapons” are only effective if they match the pattern of the cells surrounding you. If a square doesn’t match your weapon, then … well, you are likely to be eaten by a grue. 😐

You can rotate and adjust the pattern your “weapon” matches, meaning you’ll have to consciously take the “terrain” and “weapon” into consideration as you approach “monsters.” You’ll need to swap out “weapons” for loose ones if you expect to proceed through “dungeon” levels, and you don’t have the “hit points” to survive for very long.

Now add to that some range factors, which may allow you to damage “monsters” at a visible distance, or even to damage “monsters” anywhere on the map that happen to be in a matching pattern. Plus “weapon” effectiveness, and “monster” strength, your aforementioned ability to flip and rotate “weapon” patterns, and so forth and so on. …

If you’re a little overwhelmed at this point, I was too. Just the sheer range of combinations is a little intimidating, and makes starting out very challenging. I blindly charged into the first game and walked away totally bewildered, which was my fault.

encircled does a fantastic job with help and instructions though, with a full slide show of basic instructions as well as a tutorial level for pure beginners. I’d strongly recommend you try that out before wandering through the first “dungeon.” And there are keystrokes that will highlight where your “weapons” are effective or not.

I can find no huge faults with encircled — you have the option of several different keysets, so laptop players are covered. It’s an engrossing and challenging game, and even if the learning curve is a little steep, it will pay off soon enough. There’s lots of color, even if the map can be a little dense to read at times.

And to be honest, I think this was one of those times we could have departed from the conventional terms for “monsters,” “weapons,” and so forth. This is sufficiently innovative to adopt its own vocabulary. 🙂

All the same, I can honestly say this is not a game for everyone … and this time by “everyone” I mean me. It’s definitely unconventional, and definitely a departure from the standard roguelike adventure — heck, it’s even a departure from most of the mainstream games I know about.

I would recommend trying it once or twice, and seeing if it intrigues you. Take your time and learn it right though, so you don’t walk away thinking, “Wow, just wow. …”

2 thoughts on “encircled: Wow, just wow. …

  1. Pingback: *angbands: Band of brothers | Inconsolation

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