Preview | Vicious Circle
Rooster Teeth has been around for over 16 years now, starting with hit classics like Red vs. Blue and continuing with animation, apparel, and even video games. Having created multiple properties like RWBY and Camp Camp, the team at Rooster Teeth Games wanted to try something new. Instead of using one of their established franchises, they wanted to create something original. In comes Vicious Circle, an uncooperative multiplayer shooter for five players. The team invited GotGame to give the game a try, and it may be safe to say that Vicious Circle may be the next big competitive game to watch.
The concept of Vicious Circle is a 4 vs. 1 gameplay style, with four mercenaries and one monster. This may sound familiar, as Turtle Rock Studios had Evolve roughly four years ago. Let me just clear the air right here and now and say that this is nothing like Evolve. For starters, Vicious Circle is not a cooperative shooter; it’s a free-for-all. All four mercenaries will compete against each other while the monster roams around to try and eliminate the mercenaries. All this takes place across five rounds, letting each player get a turn to play as the monster. Each round will only have one winner, and the one who wins the most rounds takes the match.
While the monster has to eliminate the mercenaries, their goal is completely different. Unable to attack the other mercenaries, their goal is to collect nuggets all across the map. When the set number of nuggets is gathered by one player, an evacuation zone opens up. At that point, the player must avoid other players and the monster to try and escape with their bounty. Easier said than done. While the mercenaries cannot kill each other, the monster is brought in for that very task. When a mercenary dies, they don’t respawn as their character, but rather as a small alien creature called a Little Dipper. This is where the revenge mechanic comes into play.
As a Little Dipper, a player can attack other mercenaries and actually claim their body for themselves. When this happens, the Little Dipper player now becomes that character, bounty and all. The possessed player then becomes a Little Dipper themselves, able to roam around to either attempt to take back their body, or claim another. One useful strategy may be to camp at the evacuation zone to wait to possess whoever is winning. A Little Dipper can’t win any other way, but this mechanic does make the rounds more frantic. As players would discover, there are plenty of gameplay features to make for a hectic match.
The game at launch will have four mercenaries and one monster, not including the Little Dipper. Blitz, an all-around character with a pistol and a short-ranged teleport is played by Rooster Teeth co-founder, Geoff Ramsey. Lindsay and Michael Jones, talent from shows like RWBY and Camp Camp, play CR45H & BURN, an android and alien pair of characters with a rocket launcher and a built-in escape pod. Dave Fennoy, known for roles like Lee Everett from The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series, plays Captain Boom, using an assault rife and an invincibility shield, ideal for monster fighting. Finally, there’s Zella, voiced by Barbara Dunkelman, known for her role as Yang from RWBY and Jensen from Red vs. Blue. She’s the slowest at acquiring nuggets, but makes up for it with a cloaking ability.
The four mercenaries could work together and defeat the monster, but that situation is pretty unlikely. With everyone fending for themselves, players must achieve victory by using dirty tricks and wits. Mercenaries will have access to several gadgets that will help them in their fight. Gadgets like Shock Grenades that can make another mercenary drop their nuggets, or decoys that will allow them to outwit the monster for a brief period. One of the most tactical gadgets was the Port-A-Pal, able to teleport any player to a random spot on the map, which is very useful in a pinch. Having it used against me as the monster, it was an unexpected outcome that ended up costing me the win.
Playing as the monster is quite the experience. At launch, the game will have Peggy Sue, a giant alien chicken that can rush the mercenaries and launch acid bombs (in the form of fried eggs). It’s a rather hilarious character, which gets us to the presentation of Vicious Circle. In classic Rooster Teeth style, the game is full of humorous dialogue and fun visual gags. The overall tone of the game makes for a colorful and entertaining experience, both to play, and to watch. Being a competitive game, Rooster Teeth Games wanted to also make this game very stream friendly, and based on what we played, they succeeded. The UI displays the score and stats very clearly, and makes it easy for anyone to follow the game.
Four stages are planned at launch as well, each with their own unique aesthetics. We were only able to play one stage with our demo, but that stage alone was already extremely fun. With stage hazards and plenty of paths to take, the level design clearly works well for the game. One example of a hazard would be locking a door to trap another mercenary in a room with the monster. Of course, hazards aren’t the only thing to look out for. There are random events that could easily change the game up in the middle of a round. One example was a giant “nugget sack”, appearing in the map for players to attempt to claim a large bounty.
Getting to the long-term game plan, Vicious Circle will be a one time payment title that will have free content updates. It’ll also have a battle pass, where during each season of play, players will have a chance to earn exclusive content. The team at Rooster Teeth Games plans to add a new mercenary, a new monster, and a new stage with each major update, intending to keep the game fresh. Optional cosmetic content for purchase is also in the planning stages, though players will still be able to earn some as well. Hopefully, the team realizes some of the problems with Evolve and don’t go overboard with the DLC.
When all’s said and done, Vicious Circle offers something new to the table of competitive shooters. With so many possibilities and random elements that could happen, no game should play the same way. Based on my demo, I could easily see the game as being the next Mario Party of friendship killers. Just as players think they might have the advantage, something may easily change that and turn the tides. While there is no current release date, the game is planning to launch relatively soon on Steam. We’ll have more on Vicious Circle when more information releases, so check back with GotGame for more.