Kooky, creepy circus clowns send crawlies down your crack! Friends, at this moment in time, I am glad I got over my fear of clowns when I was a kid. I think I would have just cried my way through this game otherwise. It’s time to talk about Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness, which comes to us from developers Indiesruption and publishers Blowfish Studios.
What is Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness?
In Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness, you play as a heavily traumatised former circus clown by the name of Oliver Mills (who is in his clown costume throughout). 8 years after the freak circus he belonged to burned down, Oliver is summoned to the mansion of the reclusive circus director. The whole troupe has been invited for the purpose of a group photo. A group photo for the newspaper, announcing the revival of the circus. Yes, 8 years after the fire, the circus is to be reformed. Oliver is reunited with his former friends, but no one has been left unmarked by the tragic incident.
Descend into the Circus
Honestly friends, I’m unsure how to approach this one. There is a very interesting story at the core of this game – life after the fire. And many emotions are shown well, even with the game being 2D pixel art. That is one thing I can firmly say I enjoy. I do love a nifty art style.
However, this is not a game without flaws, and art can fix many things. Unfortunately, Vlad Circus Descend Into Madness is not one of those things.
At multiple times during the game, I got stuck in corners or got trapped by badly placed characters. For example, a character blocked me on a bridge. The character was following me and blocked my path. It took restarting to be able to get out of being blocked. Part of me wonders if that could have happened as I played on Xbox Series X.
And yet, that’s not the worst part for me.
Descend into Back and Forth
Realistically, a little back and forth can be expected in story driven games. Sometimes however, it can just be too much. And that’s the case in Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness. It feels like everything you do involves back and forth. For example, you need to collect rainwater. To do this, you need a jug, a specific record, a specific gramophone, a horn to boost the sound, and a key to get outside through a specific door. For one jug of rainwater. Despite the fact that it is pouring rain in game. There is a specific pipe that you need to collect it from.
I’ve played a lot of games over the years, good, non-clickers, and a couple of bad. None have ever had the level of back and forth that is so prevalent in Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness
Normally, I avoid talking about endings. And I won’t get into specifics here. I’m sure there are people who would love this game for the things I personally didn’t. At the end of the day, everyone has their own interests and preferences.
But friends, and again, I won’t go into specifics, I have never felt more cheated by an ending in a game. Without a doubt, there will be people who love the ending of Vlad Circus: Descend Into Madness, but I am definitely not one of them. After all the back and forth, it just felt like a cop-out.
With all that sad, at the core of Vlad Circus is a really interesting story, with interesting characters, in a solid art style. The majority of the issues I have are based on my own personal preferences in gaming. I would be very interested to see what Indiesruption do in the future. There are definitely some great ideas, it’s just not executed in a way that captures me this time around.