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[Nintendo Switch] Vlad Circus Review

[Nintendo Switch] Vlad Circus Review
  • On November 8, 2023

Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness from Indiesruption and Blowfish Studios is a dark psychological horror adventure game on Switch. Learn more in our Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness review!


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Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness from Indiesruption and Blowfish Studios is a dark psychological horror adventure game on Switch. On June 6th, 1921, the famous Vlad Circus caught fire, burning to the ground in less than 10 minutes. This is a tragedy that caused dozens of deaths while also injuring hundreds of people. The following year, Josef Petrescu, the owner’s brother, was found to be guilty of starting said fire and was sentenced to death by electric chair. As you can tell from the trailer and screens in this Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness, as well as the aforementioned description, there’s a reason why this is a Rated M for Mature journey.

You’ll be taking on the role of Oliver Mills, a tormented soul who left Pennhurst Asylum over a year ago and is still struggling with getting back to having a normal life. He has received a letter from Vlad Pretescu saying that it’s time to once again be a clown at Vlad Circus. Since it’s been years since he’s assumed the Lazy Ollie persona, he immediately contacts Doctor Nicholas Jasper, who knows of the ordeals Ollie has gone through ever since the fire consumed the circus. He’s made the trip to the Pretescu mansion to help Ollie accept his new role… as his former self.

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This one can be played by choosing one of two different difficulty settings: Story and Challenge. Story will allow you to focus on the game’s story without having to worry too much about combat during their time with Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness. As expected, Challenge dials things up and is best reserved for those of you who require a more demanding combat experience. Do know that you can change between these difficulty settings at any time during your game.


You’ll control your character with the left analog stick as you move through each area, interacting with objects and characters with the A button. You can run by pressing and holding down the B button. Any items that you collect will be added to your inventory, which you can open up by pressing the Y button. Since this is a different type of adventure game, you’ll be using weapons by pressing the ZR button. You can switch between them with the D-Pad so that you can use a revolver, a knife, or a shotgun – you know, once you have them in your possession. Pressing down on the D-Pad will equip a Rosary. You can use your lamp with the L button and can check your diary with the R button.

As you explore the mansion, you’ll get to meet the other characters who used to perform at Vlad Circus. They include, among others, ventriloquist Jake Palmer and Venancio, his companion; Montalbano the mischievous monkey; Ranjit Yadav, the circus’ official fakir who has, for some reason, cut off one of his arms; Dominique Maillard, who used to perforr as the circus’ strong man, but is now bound to a wheelchair after having polio; and Alessia Fiore, the circus’ bearded lady, who is introduced in the game while she’s in quite the predicament: she’s pregnant and is currently bleeding after traveling to the mansion!

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You’ll soon realize that Ollie’s mental health is not… ideal. His first episode will include seeing some rats eating the carcass of a dead animal in the kitchen. But when Doctor Jasper asks Ollie to show him this, the rats and the dead animal are nowhere to be seen. Soon after helping Alessia into the house and learning that her bleeding has stopped, Ollie finds himself back in his room with no recollection of how he got there in the first place.


After walking outside of the mansion, he finds one of the old Vlad Circus wagons that managed to survive the fire that consumed everything else. Taking a few steps away from the wagon, he finds Vlad Pretescu, who is just casually walking around the forest in the raging rain. What’s even weirder is that he asks if Ollie has seen his brother, who, as you might remember, was found to be guilty of starting said fire and was sentenced to death by electric chair. Taking a few extra steps will lead Ollie to find a naked, decapitated body, which immediately makes his stomach churn, thus making him throw up. But when he returns to check on the body, it’s nowhere to be found!

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This and other gruesome scenarios will increase Ollie’s stress level. Combat and any damage received will also increase his overall stress. This is why it’s important that he carries around his mother’s rosary. By pressing down on the D-Pad, Ollie can take a moment to try and calm himself before it’s too late. With a house that is infested by rats, a group of people who barely managed to escape the raging fire that consumed their home, the hallucinations that Ollie is having, and, apparently, some things that go bump in the night.


Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness takes us on a journey in which you’ll help Oliver Mills once again don the persona of Lazy Ollie, the clown, years after tragedy struck and the circus was burned to the ground by the owner’s brother. As everyone is called back to Pretescu mansion by none other than Vlad Pretescu, things start to get a bit weird for Ollie as he starts to hallucinate about dead bodies and deadly critters.. or is he? This is a Rated M for Mature experience due to the game’s overall theme as well as the gore you’ll experience, which means this is not going to be for everyone. Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness is out on Nintendo Switch with a $19.99 asking price.

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This Vlad Circus: Descend into Madness review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Blowfish Studios.

Review Overview

Can you help Lazy Ollie regain control of his life?