The Night Circus (Browser) pt.2

Posted on Tue 01 November 2011 • Tagged with Video Games

I have finally managed to absorb all story-relevant content of the Night Circus browser game, which is incidentially quite well timed given that there has been talk on twitter about closing the game down around the time of Halloween. Now, I admit last time I checked the circus was still up and running, but for a short period of time last week I panicked.

I really enjoyed the game up to the point that I knew that I’d buy the book even before it was released. I’d like to say before it was properly announced, but that is probably a bit too overstated, so I’ll just stick to my point: I knew I’d enjoy the book before buying it since I was able to visit its world, its setting through the browser game. The intense monochrome world which is filled with its generous display of magic disguised as tricks and feats of machinery drew me in. I wanted to see more of it, knowing that Morgenstern said that there’d definitely not be a sequel to the book. (Also I see no reason to do a sequel aside from reusing the great location of the magical black and white circus)

Interestingly though, The Night Circus was one of the few books which I put down from time to time instead of blazing through all pages in one half-a-day session. Parts of it made me smile. Parts of it made me sad. Some parts made me think. Knowing that there’d be just a little more content after I’ve finished the book I returned to the game. In the game, you’re given multiple goals. Some are definite goals, which you recognize as such. Others are more mysterious, like aspirations which draw you into the circus. Are you there looking for a forbidden love story? Are you there to experience its adventures through a treasure hunt? Would you rather take apart the clockwork which seems to power a lot of its more mechanical wonders like the carousel or are you looking forward to peek behind the scenes of the illusionist’s performance? It doesn’t really matter which. The circus has things to enjoy for everyone.

Personally I completed the introduction to the circus via finding all circus secrets and afterwards strived to persue my interest in magic for a short term until realizing that I’m more drawn in by my interest in love which saw me looking into a tender romance, hidden beneath secrets and disguises. As the circus reached its final performance, I was able to take part in a treasure hunt and politely declined at first when the lovely lady wanted me to hand over my carefully collected souvenirs. After pursuing my interest in love until its conclusion I felt the urge to return to the lady and claim my reward nevertheless. I was given a beautiful red gem which I hold very dearly next to my scarlet scarf, earned as a reward for helping two troubled lovers. After a little while I was again approached by a strange gentleman which seemed inclined to learn more about the wizardry going in the circus’s tents. I did some research for him but soon came to the same realization as Herr Thiessen, the first rêveur [1] and legendary maker of the circus’s famous black and white clock: Sometimes it is better and more enjoyable if you don’t know the magic behind the scenes and can open all your senses without a preoccupied mind. That is basically the same answer I gave the nice gentleman when he inquired about the status of the investigation. Afterwards I was approached by the fortuneteller which exchanged a photograph of the contortionist left by the gentleman for a deck of finely crafted tarot cards.

As everything was open to me now, I began seeing the beautiful things in mechanical things and therefore giving in to my newfound interest in clockwork and was soon invited to have a chat with Herr Thiessen. This was one of several occasions he told me lots of little details about the circus which I’ve previously been missing and found that I had a fair share of details to report myself. On a particular nice evening he showed me a great mechanical creature: a tiny bird entirely made of metal, chirping and flying like a real bird. I remember this night fondly as it was the same I gained the Friendship of the Circus, an honor only few rêveurs have ever achieved. Of course I do look forward to attending the circus more often, but I’m not sure how much more there is to report since I’ve chosen not to follow the opportunity for romance that has presented itself to me.

Yours truly,
Alex, a rêveur


  • [1] - We, people who try to visit the circus at every chance and are more familiar with it than its typical visitors, dress in black with a touch of red, like a scarf or a ribbon, to show we are part of the circus, yet not part of it. We are called the rêveurs.
  • I’d like to mention that I’m not perfectly sure if all things that are mentioned are correct or in correct order since I’ve played from mid September until the end of October 2011 and since I haven’t kept a log about my pleasurable circus activities I have to rely on my memory (which, incidentially, is not a good idea)