Indiana Jones and the Great Circle was one of, if not the most anticipated video game of the Xbox Developer Direct 2024 (here all trailers of the games shown in the Xbox Developer Direct 2024): the new first-person adventure – with remnants of the third-person in well-defined stages of the game – by MachineGames and published by Bethesda, starring Harrison Ford in a digital version and out this year on Xbox Series X/S and PC and on day one on Game Pass, has finally shown itself to the public with a first gameplay video that literally won me over.
Today I want to try to write something about it, because I’m well into it, because a preview on Freaking News has never been written (I’m curious to see how it can go), because I hope with all my heart that Indiana Jones and The Great Circle will be able to maintain expectations that – let’s face it – are definitely high, and, finally, because, after a year like 2023 was for Microsoft’s subscription service (if you missed them, here are the Best Games of 2023 landed on Xbox Game Pass), I really needed a good hype boost for this 2024 video game year just beginning.
Indiana Jones e il Grande Cerchio, gioco canonico
I start right away with a question, “Does the new Indiana Jones game fit into the timeline of events told in the many, many movies starring Harrison Ford?” The answer is yes, Indiana Jones and The Great Circle, to be precise, falls between the events recounted in Raiders of the Lost Ark (the 1981 film that was the progenitor of the saga directed by Steven Spielberg as well as the winner of five Academy Awards) and those of the The Last Crusade (third installment of the series, released in 1989 starring Harrison Ford joined by Sean Connery).
Having cleared this basic point for film buffs, I would like to make a small mention of the game’s plot by quoting the official synopsis:
Indiana Jones and The Great Circle thus seems to have all the makings to thrill lovers of the hero in whip, fedora hat, and leather jacket and, why not, capture the interest of even those who have never had a chance to pay due attention to it. Narrative side, I’m quite comfortable. I expect a great story-driven adventure filled with mysteries, treasures to discover, with many characters to get to know and with whom, possibly, to fall in love: from our allies to, of course, the villains also because the saga is, historically, chock-full of legendary villains such as René Belloq, Gestapo agent Arnold Ernst Toht or Colonel Herman Dietrich.
Indiana Jones’ Whip
Marginalize issues related to storytelling, let’s move on to gameplay: let’s always remember that Indiana Jones and The Great Circle is developed by the talented Swedish software house that created the Wolfenstein saga reboot, FPS series that you can find on Xbox Game Pass (here the best shooters available on Xbox Game Pass). Therefore, I anticipate excellent work on the level design front and, as a result, full freedom of action for the player on how to handle each individual game session.
And indeed, what can be seen from the trailer seems to fully respect the MachineGames DNA: areas overflowing with enemies can be tackled both in stealth (to figure out the behavioral patterns of the mobs but if they remain the same as in Wolfenstein we can sleep peacefully) and in open-faced, perhaps using our lash to jump between platforms and achieve an advantageous position over our opponents. However, I can’t imagine an Indiana Jones version of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz.
Despite, in fact, the possibility of shooting and using the whip to lure the poor unfortunates to us so as to punch them or to hit them in the legs causing them to lose their balance, I believe that this approach will prove to be more functional in situations of limited numerical inferiority. When, on the other hand, one will be confronted with a large group of soldiers in rather large outdoor environments, see Egypt, the choice to act silently to avoid being seen and setting off alarms, as, moreover, was also the case in Wolfenstein, might be more profitable.
Lots of puzzles and great locations
The moments when the playful offering of Indiana Jones and The Great Circle will be at its best, in my opinion, will be those focused on exploration and environmental puzzles, as indeed is to be expected from a work of this kind, heavily focused on the adventure element: glimpses are given from the trailer several puzzles to complete while we are immersed in nature, puzzles that we will have to solve to continue the story and thus gaining access to areas hidden and kept secret by ancient civilizations lost who once inhabited them.
Between jumps between soaring airplanes, jungle, tombs that will contain who knows how many deadly traps, snowy and desert locations complete with sphinxes to be admired in all their majesty, it’s impossible not to have your mouth water for this new Xbox Series X/S and PC exclusive. If we then consider the fact that Indiana Jones and The Great Circle will be available as early as this year and the fact that a team like MachineGames, which made one of my favorite shooter sagas ever, is behind this IP, I can’t help but be pumped to the max. Pending a firm release date, the future of this production looks more than positive.