Runaway with the Circus is a hidden object game. The game is set in France in the 1930s and stars Mathilde, a young lady who was left destitute by an illness: the deadly scarlet fever. After she recovers, Mathilde soon gains hope and decides to find new meaning to her life by joining a traveling circus. Players must help Mathilde in her struggle to gain new friends and work her way up the circus hierarchy. The game is also a love story—as she goes on her journey, Mathilde finds herself increasingly interested in the handsome animal trainer, and players must help Mathilde win his heart.
The game is divided into different acts and levels. The hidden objects that must be found are listed below the screen; when players locate the items, these will be crossed out. Each level has a time limit shown at the upper left hand of the screen, while the score is displayed at the upper right hand side. Runaway with the Circus provides players with hints to help them locate items and a map to show the places where they must find the hidden objects. There are also mini-games that can be played such as finding hidden words in a set of scrabble tiles to increase scores.