The upcoming tactical role-playing game Circus Electrique is a unique combination of turn-based battles and tycoon controls in the steampunk world. Many elements of the game are inspired by Darkest Dungeon, such as squad management and combat positions playing a role in combat. Nevertheless, Circus Electrique undoubtedly has its own special flair, combining circus management with fighting stylized enemies in a tactical title that has a more narrative bias than most others.
In Circus Electrique, players take on the role of journalist Amelia covering the re-opening of Circus Electrique. However, things soon go awry as an event called “Maddening” unfolds, which causes people in the city to go crazy and try to kill each other. For unknown reasons, this does not affect the circus performers, who begin to fight with the madmen in search of saving London. As the game progresses, players will be able to hire performers from an increasingly diverse portfolio, such as Strongmen, Fire Blowers, Snake Charmers and Illusionists. In addition to battles, another main feature of the Circus Electrique gameplay is night circus performances to earn money and resources, which is carried out using a unique puzzle system in which players must try to create as much chemistry between performers as possible, while meeting the expectations of the public.
Circus Electrique project manager Ivan Nicoara and lead screenwriter Chris Baker met with Screen Rant to discuss the historical motives behind the game, the creation of its unique combination of management and strategy, as well as the small details that make the game special.
I would like readers to learn a little more about the aesthetic and historical factors underlying the game.
Chris Baker: At first we wanted to make a game from a subgenre of role-playing games, which would fit Darkest Dungeon. And we wanted to make it our own, have our own aesthetics and the like.
We wanted to make such a game, so we thought: “Okay, what can we do to stand out?” There was a guy in our team we called Babar. He’s like, “What if we do something steampunk? People seem to like steampunk, so what if we do something like that?” This is definitely different from your typical high fantasy setting, so let’s see what we can do about it.
From there, we did a little research on the steampunk era in general and came across these old circus posters. Circus posters inspired us to think: “What if we combine these elements of steampunk and circus?” because these circus posters have a special flavor that we can also bring. We continued to follow this path, and then other influences emerged. Just by exploring steampunk in general, we discovered that The Steam Man of the Prairies was the first steampunk novel written in 1868. a kind of steam man, but does this book exist in our universe? The guy who wrote it is a fan, and he created his steam man at the docks as a sign of respect for her.” Something like that.
I don’t think we’ve talked about other things before. When writing the story, I wanted to try to extract some phrases and things from that era. There’s actually a book called Intermediate Victorian English that was released around 1910, and it’s a good dictionary of all these different terms and idioms; phrases very much of its time, some of which we still speak today. You’ll come across things that they thought would just be a passing phrase of that era, but that’s what we still say today -or at least we know what it means today. But I chose what to say in the dialogues here and there. It’s not like every sentence or something funny.
You may have noticed the phrase: “They will fight for you like old boots.” That’s not what we would say today, but I think you’ll understand what it means if you hear it. And there are a bunch of similar things — the word kerwallop is what they liked at the time. So there are a lot of small influences in this regard.
There have probably been a few instances where I’ve let things slide here and there, but I’ve been trying to think, “Is it possible that this phrase I’m using doesn’t exist yet?” I would do such a retrospective study. There is one particular line that I liked so much that I just left it there, because this phrase appeared somewhere in 1906. I thought: “Good. I’ll put it in there. No one will know.” I would say these are some of the main influences.
You’ll see the names of Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse, similar things will pop up, as well as some of the funniest and most random newspaper headlines. I did some research on what was happening back then, and there was this terrible cyclone in Australia or somewhere else that killed 400 people. So, in our alternate history, there is a weather machine created by Steam that prevented this and saved more than 400 lives.