Crack the Whip

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle Could be the Best Indy Adventure in 35 Years

Dr. Jones is coming full circle. But not the way you might think.

Scottish actor Sean Connery (in costume as Henry Jones) (left) and American actor Harrison Ford (as ...
Murray Close/Moviepix/Getty Images

What do you think of when you hear the words Indiana Jones adventure? For roughly 35 years — ever since the release of the 1989 instant classic The Last Crusade trying to pinpoint what makes an Indy adventure feel authentic has been a somewhat contentious question. While 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull moved the franchise toward a pulpy 1950s vibe, 2023’s The Dial of Destiny split the timeline difference, giving us an extended flashback in 1944 while primarily being a character study set in 1969.

But for the most ideal Indy results, perhaps it’s still best if the entire adventure happens in the 1930s or 1940s, with Dr. Jones looking and sounding like he’s in between the events of the first three movies. And with the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Bethesda game Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, it seems the franchise is getting back to its roots in an unexpected medium.

Set in 1937, The Great Circle takes place right in between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and pairs Indy with a new character named Gina Lombardi. As revealed in the new trailer, the primary mystery in this story is centered on various spiritual sites of great importance — from the Vatican to the Great Pyramids — that form a kind of invisible circle. A madman named Voss is after this power, and it’s up to Gina and Indy to stop him while they race to unlock the secrets of the circle.

Indy is voiced by Troy Baker, but you can barely tell this isn’t Harrison Ford uttering the lines. The mystical and religious overtones of the story also feel very aligned with the tone of The Last Crusade. In other words, this feels authentically Indy in a way that aspects of Dial of Destiny and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t.

This game will be a first-person adventure game and the first Lucasfilm non-Star Wars game in a very, very long time. The Great Circle also joins a proud and somewhat curious tradition in the franchise: the moment when a tie-in game or book feels like it has captured the feeling that some of the sequel films have botched. Back in 1992, just three short years after The Last Crusade, LucasArts released Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, a wonderful point-and-click game that nailed the spirit of a gonzo archeological mystery and doubled down on some of the inherent silliness of the what makes the franchise tick.

Will it ever get better than this?


This kind of over-the-top yet paradoxically restrained sensibility can also be found in a series of faux-Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 1980s called Find Your Fate. The first of these books, Indiana Jones and the Curse of Horror Island was actually written by horror legend R.L. Stine well before he became a household name with Fear Street and Goosebumps.

What the old Indy books and 16-bit video games have in common is exactly what The Great Circle nails in its first trailer. None of these interactive Indy adventures are trying to replace the movies or fool you into thinking this is a legit film. The Great Circle trailer obviously has better graphics than Fate of Atlantis did in 1992, but it’s nice that the gameplay still looks like a game and not just some glorified cutscenes.

Indiana Jones, in any media, is best when you don’t have to think too hard about the vague historical mystery. It works best when you feel like you’re right there with Indy, about to be captured by the bad guys at any moment. So when Indy and Gina infiltrate a frozen battleship searching for clues, we feel like we’re right back in the ‘80s again. Or, rather, the nostalgic hazy version of the ‘30s that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created over 40 years ago.

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle does not have an exact release date yet, but you can add it to your wishlist on Steam.

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