Forgotten Places: Lost Circus in Review – No Scary Clowns Here

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I have already reviewed the second Forgotten Places game a while back, but I was impressed enough that I decided it was time to check out the first one.  I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed we may never see a third entry in the series, because for the most part I didn’t want to put this one down.  What intrigued me the most was that unlike some series where subsequent entries seem to vary only in content, with the Forgotten Places series the two entries feel like completely separate games.  I think the second game, Regained Castles, offers a bit more polished of an adventure game experience, but Forgotten Places: Lost Circus is still a charming adventure game in its own right.

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Well, at least this game doesn’t start off with an ominous phone call or letter calling you to some exotic part of the world.  Instead you find out that a circus which has been haunting your dreams for as long as you can remember is actually real, so you set out to discover what secrets this supposed place of merriment holds.  Upon arrival you discover that the circus is abandoned and destroyed, so now your interest, along with that of the player’s (hopefully), is doubly piqued.  It is up to you as the player to help your character discover what dark tale lead to the poor fate that has befallen this carnival of entertainment.

One thing that sets this game apart from most others is that it takes place in both the current time and the past of your character’s memories.  More important, however, is that there is a clear delineation of tasks: in the present you’ll primarily complete object based tasks, while in the past you’ll search for items in hidden object scenes and play mini-games to accomplish certain tasks.  Unlike a typical adventure game you’re pretty much herded from location to location, even if you’re required to revisit a certain locale.  At first it actually feels a bit odd, but I suppose it keeps you from having to wander through multiple unneeded areas to get between two key destinations.  On the other hand, I found that the object based puzzles in the present often lacked much direction, which at times made it difficult to figure out what exactly you were supposed to do.  Still, it would have been nice to have more of those to balance out all of the hidden object sequences.

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The hidden object scenes are mostly of the “find the items in your list” variety, though a couple of times the developer tries to think outside the box a bit.  One scene has you fishing particular denominations of coins out of a fountain, and you have to move a spotlight around in order to see what you’re fishing for.  There are no interactive elements to these scenes in terms of manipulating objects in order to reveal the ones you actually need to find, but in most of the scenes there are one or more sub-areas that pop up when you tap in certain places.  The mini-games provided a decent mix of rehashed HoG puzzles and ones I hadn’t run across before.  Sometimes they were difficult to complete simply because of the controls: for example, in one mini-game you have to select sets of like items to clear the screen, but either the items overlapped in such a way that you could inadvertently select the wrong one or you’d accidentally unselect items by tapping the background to swipe the scene if you were zoomed in.  Despite any technical challenges, however, the mini-games could all be completed without skipping them, at least in casual mode.

The visuals in Lost Circus are really well done.  Detailed backgrounds with splashes of animation bring the circus to life, while two strongly opposed color palettes help differentiate between the memories of a vibrant, lively circus and the grim reality it has become.  The characters are well drawn, though they are a bit lacking in movements.  The cut scenes are basically slideshows instead of fully animated snippets, but they still do a fine job of telling the story.  The sound effects are decent though nothing special, and sadly there are no voices to the characters.  On the other hand, the music is very nice and helps punctuate the contrast between what the circus once was and is now.  The music in the memories is fairly light and bubbly, while the music in the present is somewhat dark and foreboding.

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Forgotten Places: Lost Circus is another fine adventure game effort from Sungift Games.  While it may not be quite as polished as Regained Castle, it is still captivating from beginning to end.  A mysterious story, fun characters and plenty to do make this a worthy first attempt in this genre.  I don’t know if we’ll be fortunate enough to see another tale in the realm of Forgotten Places, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we do.

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App Summary
Title: Forgotten Places: Lost Circus – A Hidden Object Adventure (Full)Developer: Andriy Pertsov
Reviewed Ver:2.0Min OS Req: iOS 6.0
Price:$2.99App Size:225.05MB
  • Intriguing story
  • Past / Present motif is neat
  • Nice visuals
  • Good music
  • Needs more object based puzzles
  • Mini-games can be hard to control
  • No voiceovers

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