Young journalist Amelia has the circus in her blood; her uncle runs the titular Circus Electrique and her mother was a former circus performer who died in an accident ten years prior. Amelia has been given an assignment to report on the reopening of the circus, but disaster strikes as London is plagued with a mysterious incident called ‘The Maddening’ which causes residents to turn violent.
Circus Electrique packs a big punch with its steampunk aesthetic and this initial impact is built on with the introduction of various unique systems. However, the game quickly overwhelms as the floodgates open and the tutorial throws one thing after another at you. 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 one in-game day, and there are various tasks which need to be completed. The main parts of each turn are the circus performances that you have to orchestrate. The Big Top will have certain shows you can put on and you have to fill the spaces with your performers, paying attention to each performer’s relationship in order to get a higher rating, and subsequently reaping better rewards. There will also be the chance to heal up party members, recruit more allies, and craft items.
Once all the admin work is done, the final thing to do is to head to the streets of London to fight enemies who have been taken over by ‘The Maddening’. You can only fill up your party with members who aren’t resting, or in a circus performance.
Combat is quite enjoyable, with different types of performers having different benefits and type effectivity. There is an element of tactics, 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 run from battle — which may, depending on the situation, be a more effective strategy.
There’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t stop the game from feeling stale. Only getting to do one battle per in-game day makes the title's pacing feel very slow, and the story feels disappointingly broken up as a result.