Developer: Dolce Vita Games
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Circus: a place of magic, mayhem, and an array of the most exciting acts and performances the world will ever know. Actress-turned game developer Irina Vaganova, who created Dolce Vita Games, uses her firsthand knowledge to introduce a different kind of app in the form of a circus game. Namely Circus Life.

At first I didn’t know what to make of Circus Life. Styled upon the 1920s, the story is presented in a vintage poster style and tells the story of a sad man named Mr. Putt who joins the circus and goes on to pursue the heart of its star, the wonderful Ms. Lilli. Unfortunately for Mr. Putt, the overprotective circus director is onto his case and will do anything to try and make life hard for him.

IMG_0508Split into separate mini-games, each part of the story only unlocks once a certain score target is met. Frustratingly, this can take some time, and despite the solid concept and promising fun mechanics could cause older players to perhaps lose interest rather quickly. The user-interface is simple to navigate and clearly laid out, largely due to the straightforward setup of the game format itself. The first mini-game presents itself as a basic balloon catching game that gets exceedingly harder (but not overly so) as it continues.

The repetitive nature of having to catch 500 points worth of these balloons in order to advance to the next chapter is overly-tedious and somewhat time consuming, and feels more of a drag than anything else. Not only that, but only the pink balloons amount to ten points each, and these are few and far between. 500 may seem a small amount, but upon reaching the target and unlocking the next mini-game there is then the factor of having to reach a minimum score of 5,000 points to advance from this point forward. Though the next mini-game is considerably more entertaining (collecting animal waste before it falls), the idea of having to achieve such a high goal might be enough to put players off completely. Of course, there’s always the option to spend a few pennies in order to unlock levels or pay for extra pink balloons.

IMG_0515The story itself is a nice interesting account of the various personalities of the circus, but although this gave me somewhat high hopes for the game, sadly I found it lacked the enjoyment and excitement I had anticipated. The freemium model is its biggest letdown; with the ludicrously high score targets to unlock the next part hindering the overall entertainment factor.

Though I was hugely intrigued to know where the story went, I found the repetitious mechanics of gameplay overly monotonous. It’s most certainly a game that is supposed to be played in short bursts, and perhaps would work better in this case. It certainly achieves points in its favor for being different, though.


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