Hands-on Preview of Upsilon Circuit
One of the most unique titles shown off at the PAX Prime Indie Megabooth this past August was Upsilon Circuit from Robot Loves Kitty, which is a husband and wife development team from New England. What makes this game so unique is that it is part interactive TV show, and part video game that requires interaction from the audience to dictate the player’s experience. There’s also a Max Headroom inspired Ronald Reagan host named Raygon to really add to the imaginative package that is Upsilon Circuit, and after meeting him at PAX Prime I can tell you that he loves red watches.
The game is set in an alternate universe where the city of Manhattan disappears in the 80’s, which causes the TV show to kickoff courtesy of the trippy Raygon. Only eight players can play at a time, and death is permanent, literally. If you die while playing as a contestant you are done with Upsilon Circuit. This may sound a bit brutal and self-defeating, but the real strategic gameplay actually takes place when you’re a viewer.
Audience members, who watch the eight players in a livestream type of setting, make all of the decisions in terms of how player XP is doled out, and what types of skills and upgrades to give each player. Think of The Hunger Games, and how people from the Capital can send gifts into the arena for the tributes to use to their advantage. That is essentially how the Upsilon audience participates in the game show, so they can make or break a player’s run through the actual game, which plays like an action-RPG.
I didn’t have a chance to play as an audience member, but I did get to take a spin with Upsilon Circuit as a player. The game features a somewhat top-down view with animated visuals that look great. The gameplay is fairly straight forward, but due to my lack of attention while playing, I died fairly early on, so in true Upsilon Circuit fashion, my time with the game as a player came to an end quite swiftly.
This really accentuated the core concept of Upsilon Circuit and its brutal stance on permadeath. As a player you must rely on the audience to keep you buffed up, but you also must rely on your skills as a gamer for any chance of success. There is no time for casual play, your life depends on your full attention and the favor of the audience just like Katniss’ in The Hunger Games. If you are a popular player, the audience will probably shower you with gifts, if you suck, you will probably be left to die on your own, and you’ll never be able to play the game again as a combatant.
Upsilon Circuit has serious potential to carve out a new genre in the video game industry if its innovative gameplay design catches on. I definitely could see gamers getting involved as audience members and developing an attachment to the game show part like people do with actual TV shows. I also feel like the players could forge their own legends and become gods of the digital arena and achieve acclaim like Captain Freedom himself.
The Robot Loves Kitty duo anticipates the game launching sometime in 2015 for PCs. At this time no other platforms have been discussed, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the question. Make sure to stay tuned to EB for more details on Upsilon Circuit as they’re released.
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