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Rule of Rose

2 Ratings: 3.5
Video Games

Rule Of Rose takes you into the past for incredible and strange gaming action. It is March, 1930 when young Jennifer's parents are killed in a tragic airship accident. She is sent to Rose Garden Orphanage, in a remote portion of the English countryside. … see full wiki

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1 review about Rule of Rose

Such a sad, unlucky girl...

  • Jul 6, 2008
Rating:
+3
What an oddity 'Rule of Rose' is! Why would anyone choose to play a game in which the main character is a nervous, awkward teenage girl and the story the game tells could best be described as disturbing? And yet, there's lots of good answers to this question. How about, just for starters: beautiful graphics, unique gameplay, and a compelling and rich plotline?

The graphics of 'Rule of Rose' are one of the things that sold me on the game almost immediately. Just watch the game's opening trailer to get a taste of what you'll see -- visually lush and beautiful animations, expressive characters, and a style perfectly suited to the game's story. Like the 'Silent Hill' series, 'Rule of Rose' takes a simple real-world environment and wraps it in darkness and just a slight tinge of surrealism to keep you off-guard. As gorgeous as the backdrop is, the creatures and dark edges of the story are rendered just as lovingly, products of a twisted imagination. In some scenes, sun streams through huge windows and bathes the world in a golden glow, while later the same windows are darkened except for occasional flashes of lightning, illuminating shuffling figures and featureless masks for faces. The visual style of 'Rule of Rose' is breathtaking, both terrible and beautiful.

Playing through 'Rule of Rose' can be frustrating at times. Jennifer, the main character of the game, is awkward, kind of slow, and clumsy with weapons. She is no fighter and is easily overpowered. This makes sense for the way the game's story is told, but can still make the experience difficult sometimes. This is more than offset, though, by the added dynamic of Jennifer's faithful friend, Brown the dog. Once you find and befriend him (early on in the game), Brown becomes your indispensible companion. He will help you find everything from restorative items (scones and lollipops for Jennifer, bacon and bones for Brown) to the next item needed to progress the story (everything from keys to teddy bears) and more. Brown also helps Jennifer in combat by frightening some enemies and giving Jennifer a better chance to strike or run away. Jennifer by herself may have made for a somewhat weak and frustrating experience overall, but playing 'Rule of Rose' with Jennifer and Brown is considerably more interesting.

Which all leads to the story. Told mainly through a series of crudely-drawn storybooks Jennifer finds and assembles along the way, 'Rule of Rose' is like a modern-day Grimm's fairytale gone horribly wrong. Thematically, the nearest comparison I can think of is William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies,' as 'Rule of Rose' is another story is which children are left to discover a society all of their own making (the mysterious Aristocrats of the Red Crayon), and the result is seldom pretty to look at. The children in 'Rule of Rose' are cruel and malicious to one another, as conniving and manipulative as any adults, and as selfish. Even so, 'Rule of Rose' is hard to turn away from, once begun. The storybook motif and the way the stories translate to Jennifer's reality are compelling, and in their own twisted way, beautiful too. Discovering the fate of the Aristocrats and the identity of the mysterious Stray Dog kept me playing to the bitter end.

Add in a surprisingly touching music score by Yutaka Minobe, consisting mainly of string arrangements that are positively haunting, and chillingly effective voice acting for each character, and 'Rule of Rose' comes together as an occasionally frustrating but overall compelling game.

Mind you, 'Rule of Rose' is not for everyone. The story features cruel behavior among children, and hints at physical and sexual abuse and cruelty to animals. There is very little that is overtly shown, but the undercurrent of dread and the implications of the story will frighten some and downright offend others. On the other end of the spectrum, those who like action games packed with blood and mayhem are likely to be disappointed by the slow pace of the story and the limited combat moves of the the teenage heroine. For those, however, who can appreciate a dark fairy tale, who can see beauty even in terror, who believe that even the story of a sad, unlucky, lonely girl has merit, 'Rule of Rose' is a game well worth the playing.

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