Circus Life is a strange little game that comes to us from a new, European developer called Dolce Vita Games. As you might expect, the game deals with life under the big top, which is perfect since the founder and CEO of Dolce Vita Games is Irina Vaganova, the daughter of a gymnast and a horse handler who was raised in the Russian circus.
Circus Life is about a man named Mr. Putt who joins the circus only to fall in love with a tiny woman named Ms. Lilli. He decides to pursue her, but the circus director is intent on keeping the two apart. And thus, Mr. Putt has to undergo a series of tasks in order to be with the one he loves.
It's important to note that the narrative and the games, while deceptively simple, are all culled from Vaganova's own experiences in the circus. She really did witness a romance between a circus worker and a tiny woman. Even the circus director, with all of his jealous attempts to destroy the couple's chances at being together, is based on a real person. Because of her experience and expertise, Vaganova attempted to create a game that accurately represented what life was like behind the scenes at a circus. Did she succeed?
If her aim was to portray how difficult life can be as a circus worker, then yes, Vaganova has succeeded. When you're not watching charming cutscenes in a 1920s art-style, then you're playing mini-games in Circus Life. These games can range from tossing out balloons, catching animal droppings in a bucket and feeding them so that the cycle repeats.
While the games are all simple and aren't very taxing, you might find yourself getting fatigued, despite the lax difficulty level. This is because some of the goals set in place to unlock other mini-games can get ridiculously high. For example, it could take you 500 points to unlock the poop-catching game while playing the balloon game. The rub is that each balloon you successfully swipe into the horn is only worth one point, with few multipliers available. This means that it could take you a very long time and multiple playthroughs of a mini-game to unlock the rest.
So the games in Circus Life are easy enough for casual players to just mindlessly play (and it is some pretty mindless fun), but also offer a layer of challenge for those who have both the time and patience to really try to reach each game's lofty point goal.
If you're part of the former camp, then you'll find yourself going into a place of zen as you smack balloons away or collect droppings. If you count yourself as part of the latter group, then the ceiling is pretty high for you and we wish you the best of luck.
As a game that is inspired by the experiences of someone who's actually lived it, Circus Life is wonderful. But as a game itself, it is somewhat lacking in the fun factor department, mainly because the games are too simple and easy. The art style might not also be for everyone, though it stays true to the aesthetics of the Golden Age of the circus.
But hey, the price admission to this circus is free and you might actually learn a thing for two about life under the big top. Pick it up if you're down for some fun that you can have with your brain turned off. If you're looking for something with a little more excitement, then this show probably isn't for you.