Young journalist Amelia has a circus in her blood; Her uncle runs the titular Circus Electric and her mother was a former circus performer who died in an accident ten years earlier. Amelia is tasked with reporting on the circus’s reopening, but as disaster strikes London, a mysterious phenomenon called ‘The Maidening’ turns the residents violent.
Circus Electric packs a big punch with its steampunk aesthetic and this initial impression has been created with the introduction of a variety of unique systems. However, as the floodgates open, the game quickly takes over and the tutorial throws things at you one after the other. The user interface is busy and it can be hard to navigate where to go for each task you need to complete per turn.
Each turn is an in-game day, and there are many tasks that need to be completed. The main parts of each turn are circus performances that you have to orchestrate. Big Top will have a few shows you can put on and you’ll have to fill in the blanks with your cast, pay attention to each artist’s relationship to get higher ratings, and get better rewards later. There will also be a chance to heal party members, recruit more allies, and craft items.
Once all the admin tasks are done, the final task is to take to the streets of London to fight the enemies that ‘The Maddening’ has captured. You can fill your party with only members who are not resting, or are performing in a circus.
The combat is quite entertaining, with different types of cast having different benefits and types of effectiveness. There is an element of strategy, as you can dispatch enemies in the traditional way of reducing HP to zero, or you can use your moves to reduce your opponent’s devotion to zero and have them flee the battle. – which may, depending on the situation, be the more effective strategy.
There’s a lot going on, but that doesn’t stop the game from feeling stale. Having only one fight per day in the game slows the pace of the title too much, and the story breaks down disappointingly as a result.