Developer: Kalio
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Ring Run Circus presents a challenge to the player: it has great art and cleverly-used mechanics, but the mechanic at the heart of it just never feels satisfying. It doesn’t ruin the game, but it keeps it from being an excellent experience.

RingRunCircus-1The gameplay has players trying to navigate around levels of connected rings, with the ability to move between rings by switching to the outside. By moving to the outside (via tapping and holding on the right side of the screen) right when two rings intersect, player get a speed boost that can come in handy for completing levels quickly, or for avoiding enemies. Nothing actually kills the player, they just serve as obstacles to success.

The player controls one of three different characters with their own abilities: Nina can jump, Ned can slap enemies to stun them, and Nelson can activate switches. Each character has their own set of levels that utilize the their abilities and put them to the test, in addition to a final set of levels that has players switching between the three to try and complete new challenges, along with the additional goal of collecting all the stars in each level.

RingRunCircus-8Now, Ring Run Circus is thankfully intelligent with its progression system. Because it has three different characters, and then the use of all three, the developers have wisely made the game multi-linear. After completing a few levels for one character, the next one opens up, and then another, and then the levels with all three. Each character has ultra-challenging levels of their own, so it allows the developers to not hide the most clever parts of their game and to not frustrate players too much. Having trouble with one character’s level? Jump to another’s levels and try to beat them! Each character introduces new challenges within the same ring-swapping framework.

The ring-swapping is the one thing that holds me back from fully enjoying Ring Run Circus: it never doesn’t feel awkward. The game just never gets that satisfying ‘click’ of switching from one ring to another. Part of it is because of the tight timing window to switch with the speed boost. The other part of it is that the game just never makes clear to the player when they’ve switched over in a clear way. The game has a fantastic amount of variety to it, it just needs to be more satisfying to play at a core level.

Don’t let that be a dissuading element to playing Ring Run Circus, though: it’s fun and challenging, just decidedly imperfect. Yet what in life is perfect?


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