May 13, 2014 8:30 PM | Lena LeRay
Circuits from Digital Tentacle is a music-based puzzle game. Each of the puzzles is a song, the constituent parts of which have been packaged up and put out of order. The player's job is to listen to the original composition and place the parts in the right spots on a circuit-like grid to recreate the original song.
The game starts out simple, giving the player a chance to learn how the interface works. Each circuit has a play button at one end; pushing play makes light travel along the lines of the circuit, activating any circular nodes it encounters along the way. The circular nodes are where the player places the parts of the song, and when a node is activated that part of the song plays. If the player puts all of the song parts in the right nodes and the composition is correctly arranged, then they have successfully completed the puzzle.
Complexity gradually increases, with more complex songs and new puzzle elements (including a couple kinds of hints) being added over time. The first few levels are pretty easy and shouldn't give anyone much trouble, but the later levels will really test players' listening skills. The rate of progression seems well balanced for both listening complexity and the addition of new puzzle elements, but it should be noted that I say that with some music theory and ear training under my belt. I personally didn't have any trouble with anything until sometime after level 15. The game doesn't throw people with poor listening skills under the bus, though, by any stretch. There are some key visual cues in how light travels along the circuits.
The player never feels like a composer, per se, but the parts are divided up in such a way that even mistaken arrangements sound good. All the music sounds good, to be honest. I'm unfamiliar with the distinctions between different types of electronic music, so I can't say exactly what genre the music falls under, but I found myself really enjoying the music while playing and never felt a desire to fast forward the music if I had failed a stage a few times. I feel like that's important for a game like this, where listening to the music you've arranged so you can compare it to the target track is an important part of the gameplay.
Circuits is available via Steam for Windows, Mac, Linux, at the criminally low price of $2.99 and comes with the soundtrack in a folder amongst the game files. The iPad version is priced at $1.99. At such a low price, you're doing yourself a disservice not to give it a try if it sounds like something you think you might enjoy. Digital Tentacle has also announced that Chipzel has agreed to compose a track for a future update.