Parents' Guide to

Circus Electrique

By Dwayne Jenkins, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Role-playing game is slow and tedious with half-baked ideas.

Circus Electrique Cover

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One of the game's few bright spots, unfortunately, is its story, which is the only properly built-up element at play here. Circus Electrique otherwise comes across as "diet Darkest Dungeon" rather than doing much on its own. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that it mishandles all the gameplay aspects it's trying desperately to juggle. Since it's a tactical role-playing game (RPG), the battles you'll encounter are either painfully slow (where enemies will be constantly thrown at you or heal themselves in a loop that keeps some battles going indefinitely) or insultingly easy (where encounters require little thought or technique). The animations quickly go from fun and quirky to tiresome as the novelty of the battle system wears thin. Navigating through the game's overworld between battles would be enjoyable if different events or circumstances popped up to keep the gameplay from getting stale. But the battles make up a good chunk of the game's runtime, making players dread a crucial part of the experience.

Worse than that is the gimmick of circus show management. Players can choose from a number of show templates, and then choose performers with certain stats and archetypes that will best work with one another. This way, you can build the perfect show, which has a few potential benefits -- be it experience for individual performers, money, or higher attendance rates. Conceptually, this is a great idea to help the game stand out from other tactical RPGs. But this turns out to be nothing more than busywork on top of play that already wastes your time. There are no interesting animations or cutscenes where you get to see a snippet of the show you created in action. You read about how good or bad your show was in a newspaper after a fight, which is worse because you have to set up a circus show before every single battle. Aggressively redundant, Circus Electrique is a chore of a game that will consistently remind players of the better alternatives out there.

Game Details

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