A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Overarching story of saving a town from the effects of madness, as well as recruiting others to join your cause, using teamwork, compassion, and bravery to accomplish your goals.
Positive Role Models
Though there's a storyline featuring a relationship between an uncle and his niece getting repaired over time, many central characters are entirely content to allow circus performers to operate in their shows with little pay and at the expense of their personal well-being. Also, the many potential sacrifices that are made along your journey in the name of serving the circus's leader seem to be in vain.
Contains characters with various body types and racial identities, but the game doesn't really highlight nuances and differences within the story.
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Ease of Play
Can initially be overwhelming, introducing many of its complex mechanics in one fell swoop and expecting players to understand and apply what they've only had a brief amount of time to learn. Difficulty can also be inconsistent, ranging from terribly easy to unnecessarily hard from one battle to the next.
Violence & Scariness
Characters will use a range of attacks: from poisoning others to beating them with blunt objects to using wacky circus objects -- all can sometimes cause a little bloodshed. But the game's visual style keeps things decently light.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few female characters could be described as showing more skin than necessary.
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Characters will occasionally use light profanity -- e.g., "damn" or "hell." Nothing worse than that.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Circus Electrique is a downloadable single-player tactical RPG (role-playing game) available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Players will work their way through London to stop "the Maddening," an event that's made many of the residents aggressive and violent. Along their journey to restore London to its former glory, players will use a range of attacks against enemies that include poisoning others, beating them with blunt objects, and using wacky circus objects, which can cause a minor degree of bloodshed. There's something of an overarching positive message of helping others and saving London, but that's blurred by the carelessness with which individual lives can be lost, with no care from the game's central characters. The game's many mechanics can be difficult to understand, as there's so much going on, and players are thrown into the deep end before they're potentially ready.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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