Circus Electric Review (Switch Online Store)

Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

Circus Electrique will quickly interest all fans of turn-based tactical RPGs, especially those who love Darkest Dungeon. However, its unique design raises the question of what Darkest Dungeon would be like if filled with mechanical mimes and pretentious cops, all set in rugged steampunk Victorian London. Zen Studios responded with this eccentric part circus sim, part story RPG, and unfortunately the answer is “not so good”.

From the start of the game, players take on the role of Amelia, the niece of Electrique’s ringleader and a young journalist tasked with reporting on the show’s reopening after a deadly accident ten years earlier. Coincidentally, Amelia’s mother was the victim of the accident, so tension prevails between niece and uncle. However, after Amelia’s visit, an unexpected turn of events unfolds in the Maddening Incident, which plunges London into chaos and turns its inhabitants into vicious enemies. Thus, instead of reporting the reopening of the Circus, Amelia takes it upon herself to find the source of the Maddening Spring and relies on the support of the Circus Electrique.

Circus Electric Review - Screenshot 2 of 6
Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

Closer to the start of the game, a detailed guide will tell you about your first combat experience. Right from the start, Circus Electric provides a lot of information to absorb. Unfortunately, on a portable computer, the text is so small that it is almost impossible to read it, but when playing on a docking station, there is not much difference. The game offers a complete codex that can be accessed at any time should vital information be lost or ignored by the masses, but at this point in the Switch’s life cycle, tiny text really should be a thing of the past.

The gameplay is divided into two predominant styles: you take to the streets of London and traverse a vast map, facing enemies, collecting loot and sometimes answering riddle-like questions to get extra money, and then instead of gathering a gang of rogues to fight the robotic opposition Circus Electrique puts the players in the role of ringleader.

Every night you are assigned to put on a show on a big peak. This circus control provides an exciting change of pace from the combat side of things, but also requires a lot of thought. While it’s easy to hire talent at a train station, finding performers who have a good working relationship and can entertain an audience is far from it.

Circus Electric Review - Screenshot 3 of 6
Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

A bad show leads to a bad reputation. However, a good show can bring back rich gifts from viewers and line your pockets with extra coins. As the circus gains more attention, the game’s central hub expands and creates new buildings to use. Plus, as you progress, you’ll unlock card slots, which means you’ll be able to recruit more performers and, in turn, more fighters. This is one of the main reasons why the short-lived circus management sections keep you coming back at the start of the game.

But as you progress through the map and the six districts of the city, these sections of the circus management become rather insignificant. While they are good for receiving funds and occasional gifts, there are not many other benefits. It quickly becomes tiresome to stop what you’re doing on the map, revisit the circus, and sacrifice another handful of potential fighters to put on a show for the night. Also, each “day” is essentially one fight, so it’s impossible to feel like you’re progressing when the end of each battle takes you right back to where you started from. It would be much more interesting if each day consisted of several encounters, allowing you to immerse yourself in the main attraction of the title – combat.

Circus Electric Review - Screenshot 4 of 6
Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

Circus Electric uses a turn-based approach to combat where each player is positioned in a line, meaning that certain moves can only be used in certain positions, meaning you need to tactically consider your next move. Each battle requires up to four participants, and you have to use the skills of 15 different archetypes. Although only a few artists are available at the beginning, as you progress, you gain access to more diverse artists.

Each archetype has six different moves and abilities, varying in purpose, strength, and accuracy. Thus, while flamethrowers can deal damage to every member of the opposition from the back line, strongmen can deal the most damage from the front. As with the introductory guide, mastering each skill and ability requires a lot of attention. However, Circus Electrique quickly explains the pros and cons of each action, and combat is best learned by doing.

As a new addition to this fighting style, the game takes an extra step and introduces “loyalty” which acts as a secondary health bar. Your team depends on devotion to combat, which can be increased by using crafted items or by using morale-boosting abilities. Without devotion, fighters will run away from the match – great when there are few opponents, but not so great when your team packs up and leaves.

Circus Electric Review - Screenshot 5 of 6
Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

The fight isn’t particularly difficult, and it becomes more of a fight over who can land the most vicious punch towards the end. As different characters enter combat, they gain experience which, as expected, can be used to level up and upgrade skills in the central hub. Increasing the skill level of a character will increase the chances of landing critical hits with a higher percentage of damage, as well as increasing devotion in general. So given that you level up your characters as you explore, combat won’t keep you awake at night.

The most charming element of Circus Electrique is certainly its rugged London steampunk landscape, where the adventure takes place. During dialogue, the game takes on an almost vintage Victorian, hand-drawn look that carries over to circus promotional posters and artist cards. Unfortunately, this same art style doesn’t apply to battles.

Characters of the same archetype look the same except for simple things like hair color, and the general appearance of characters in combat looks dull compared to their appearance in portraits. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the enemies you face, which quickly become a carbon copy of the previous battle you just faced, feeding on the tedious repetition of fights in the same zone.

Circus Electric Review - Screenshot 6 of 6
Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

This does not mean that the first few combat encounters are not interesting. It’s fun to get into the abilities of each archetype, and the over-the-top martial nature reflects the humorous charm of the circus performers, so it’s a pity that this novelty disappears after the completion of the first city zone.


While Circus Electrique has its intriguing quirks, with its reliance on loyalty and occasional circus-management options, it comes with too many flaws. Since much of his story revolves around combat, he soon becomes an annoying rather than enjoyable element. The game offers a refreshing and unique twist on the genre; however, you lack the drive to want to fight on the streets of London in a steampunk style. The story grabs you at first, but it takes time to develop, and much of the initial dialogue is spent on family feuds that have no real content. Turn-based strategy fans and those who loved Darkest Dungeon may like Circus Electrique better, but it’s too rambling and repetitive to recommend wholeheartedly.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button