Three years after the release of Thomas Was Alone, and just one year after Volume, developer Mike Bithell discussed plans for two new games: a "smaller" project and a "seismic, massive" one. Last year, Bithell released the smaller project on that list: Subsurface Circular, a short text adventure headlined by some strange robots. It seems he found room for another small game, because today Bithell abruptly released Quarantine Circular, a completely separate but equally short text adventure. You can get it on Steam for $6 (or $4.79 if you buy by May 29).
Given its surprise release and numerous similarities to Subsurface Circular, I'm willing to bet Quarantine Circular is not the "seismic, massive" project Bithell mentioned. On Twitter, he said it was directly inspired by the success of Subsurface Circular's experimental structure.
"It got the best reviews we've ever had, and a Steam rating that I'm still not entirely convinced isn't the result of a weird bug," he said. "It also (thanks to being pretty cheap to make) made its money back quickly and has kept us all going since."
Bithell describes Quarantine Circular as "a one-sitting game for adults in search of a polished new world to discover" and a text adventure enhanced by "social dynamics and greater choice." It's about a group of scientists interrogating a member of an alien race believed to be linked to a mysterious global pandemic. It deals with "themes of humanity and philosophy," and looks to have the same branching dialogue that made Subsurface Circular so interesting.
Judging from its Steam FAQ, Quarantine Circular is quite short indeed. The first entry asks "If this game is ‘short’, what’s to stop me getting a refund when I’m done?" presumably referring to Steam's two-hour refund window. Not that there's a problem with short games: as Steven put it, valuing games by their cost per hour is bullshit. The FAQ also explains that Quarantine Circular is totally independent from Subsurface Circular and Bithell's other games. "Quarantine Circular tells its own self contained story," it says.