Circus Electrique, the tried and true of an interesting circus themed turn-based RPG

Circus Electrique, the tried and true of an interesting circus themed turn-based RPG

Circus Electrique

Although it is generally known for its enormous contribution to the pinball industry, Zen Studios has always had another passion, that of RPGs with strategic elements, which, however, has never had the opportunity to express with the right continuity. For some time now, however, the small Hungarian team seems to have decided to follow this vocation, and after two discreet experiences such as Dread Nautical and Operencia: The Stolen Sun, it is now ready to propose a new adventure, set in a dark Victorian London where circus performers, and not comic characters, are the real superheroes.

We are talking about Circus Electrique, an interesting turn-based tactical RPG that we explored thanks to a demo capable of offering us a conspicuous taste of the many systems of the game, before its arrival on consoles and PCs on September 6th.

Grab some popcorn, make yourself comfortable and get ready to be surprised by all the wonders hidden under the circus tent, in our tried and tested Circus Electrique.

The heroes of the circus

Circus Electrique's four-on-four fights Reading the presentation of the game, someone will certainly have thought of Freaks Out, a 2021 film directed by Gabriele Mainetti, which shares an unusual narrative concept with Circus Electrique. Both in the film with Claudio Santamaria and Pietro Castellitto and in the game developed by Zen Studios, in fact, the protagonists are circus artists with extraordinary powers, even if in the second case we are in a dark and dystopian London with a strong steampunk character, rather than in a Nazi-controlled Rome.

Talking about it with the developers themselves, the idea of ​​using such a particular universe for their next video game blossomed by looking at those old posters that circus directors used in the late 1800s to paint performers as supernatural beings , in an attempt to sell a few more tickets. From this intuition was born a tactical RPG with turn-based combat openly inspired by productions of the caliber of Darkest Dungeon, centered on a story that will lead us to explore London in search of the causes of "Madness", a mysterious phenomenon that pushes London citizens to kill each other.

The short duration of the demo did not allow us to test the goodness of the narrative, but instead offered us the opportunity to adequately immerse ourselves in the many systems that crowd the playful offer of Cirus Electrique who, in addition to the fights, will entrust us with the profound management of the entire circus apparatus at the center of the game. In fact, resources and manpower are needed to conduct the investigation and for this we will be called upon to administer the circus by organizing shows and recruiting new artists to take with us to explore London.

The fights

A city dungeon, full of encounters and fights For the most part, the adventure unfolds and is told through what are real city dungeons, filled with random encounters, rewards and dangers, but above all with fights, which they take place between two teams of four characters and are concluded only when one of the two formations is down. As often happens in productions of this mold, circus performers are completely procedural and are permanently lost in the event of death, so carefully managing each fight will be the only way not to have to give up a character that you have enhanced and preserved for several hours. of game. Each artist has his own peculiarities, but the moves and attributes are generally governed by the class they belong to, which establishes the appearance and statistics of each of them.

There is the Strong Man, an artist that uses all its might to inflict a terrible amount of damage to opponents, and the Pagliacci, support tanks that can impose on the Wicked, the antagonists of the game and victims of Madness, a large number of negative effects. The Fire Eater specializes in ranged combat and has great damage, while the Escapologist alternates between debuffs and attacks involving the entire enemy team. Although the classes included in the demo weren't very many, the archetypes we observed seemed well characterized and each responded to a different role on the field, so we can't wait to find out what the degree of variety offered by Circus Electrique will be. once the player has access to all 15 classes of circus performers available in the final game.

The Circus Electrique, with tents dedicated to the various activities of the game Each of them, by the way, has access to different skills and attacks based on the positioning on the playing field, divided into four slots as the number of fighters. For example, the Strong Man can only exploit his most powerful attacks when he is deployed in the front lines, coming to hit only the opponents placed in the most advanced slots and close to him. Conversely, a forward position Fire Eater has access to a small number of weak attacks, while at his best when he throws fireballs from the rear. Almost like in a card game, managing the arrangement of the artists will be crucial, if you aim not to lose them all in a disastrous defeat.

Circus Electrique also applies another variable to the clashes, the Devotion, which affects many aspects of the character, even out of combat. In general, the higher this value is, the more the circus performers will be lethal during the fight, receiving for example some bonuses to damage and accuracy, while if it drops to zero the artist will leave the circus forever. Devotion builds up in combat, but drops if the character is left at the circus without doing anything, so micro-management of the artists deck will always be required to prevent them from abandoning us in search of some other adventure.

Venghino gentlemen venghino

Only by combining the right performers will you have enough stars to spend on rewards When you win a fight, you move on to the next day and you are brought back to the circus, the place where the soul is made from Circus Electrique's management software. Before launching again on a mission, here you can heal injured artists, recruit new ones, upgrade their skills when they level up, but also create a long series of objects through crafting that can prove useful during combat. Most important of all, however, is the organization of the evening show, which guarantees a good number of shillings every day, as well as leveling up the entire circus by unlocking new structures.

The organization of the show passes from a series of projects, which must be completed by fitting and matching the performers in our possession to reach a certain star rating. The stars, then, can be invested to receive different rewards: dedicating one to the public increases the proceeds and gifts at the end of the day, while turning it to entertainment acquires more reputation, useful to level up the circus. Finally, by spending a star for Complexity, we will be able to gain extra experience for the circus performers involved in the show. The organization of the show, as well as the management of the circus activities, represent an indisputable strong point of the production of Zen Studios, which gives depth to the fights by enriching the formula with many very important management dynamics, in the economy of the clashes.

Circus Electrique is a frighteningly interesting turn-based RPG, full of systems that intertwine with each other to create a unique gaming experience with a strong strategic focus. The fights have shown us how delicate the balances of the bunch of circus artists are, while the management of the circus is not optional as we had feared and indeed, it represents a cornerstone of the title developed by Zen Studios. The long-term stability of the narrative will have to be tested, but the first contact was able to give us positive sensations across the board.


The idea of ​​the artists circus as superheroes fits perfectly The fights are challenging and with a strong strategic edge The circus management is as deep as we would like DOUBTS The quality of the narration is an unknown The animations during the fight are not memorable Did you notice any mistakes?

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