Rule of Rose: First impressions

Rule Of Rose

I have been looking forward to this game for a while, but nothing I had seen could really prepare me for the experience of playing it. Let me say right off the bat, that this game is not for everyone. It is definitely a niche market game, and if you are looking for non stop, in your face, let’s go kill everything in sight action, this is not the game for you. However, if you are like me and looking for something moody, cerebral and very bizarre, you’ll probably really like it.Rule of Rose is an odd bird in the world of gaming, a sort of Alice in Wonderland by way of Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Haunting Ground. The emphasis is definitely not on combat, there is a lot of exploring and puzzle solving and keeping out of danger. Not to say there isn’t any combat, it’s just very limited. The choice of weapons runs to the table setting ilk, a fork, a carving knife; the perfect weapons for stabbing the hideous enemies that look like something out of an Edvard Munch painting. The things that have really struck me about it so far have been the period atmosphere, the music and the constant feeling of walking around in someone else’s creepy nightmare. The plot is moved along by text displays much in the style of the cards used in silent films. You are literally living out a storybook plot that is being written as you play.You are Jennifer, a seemingly perpetually terrified and out of breath young girl who has suddenly been dumped into a surreal dream overseen by the cruel “Red Crayon Aristocrats”, a group of children who have created their own hierarchal society. Jennifer is somehow chosen to be the newest member (against her will) and she must work her way through the stringent rules set down by the Aristocrats if she ever hopes to get out of the unfortunate situation she finds herself in. Her first assignment, find a pefect butterfly and bring it back to the talking offering box nailed to the society’s meeting room door. Oh yes, did I mention that this portion of the game takes place aboard a giant zeppelin?The overall feeling of utter bizarreness pervades every aspect of the game. Everything seems to talk…scissors, buckets, doors… and the terrifying Village of the Damned-like children that seem to be hiding around every corner, love to speak in scary whispers and cryptic messages. You save your game with the “Bucket Knights” a sort of child-made scarecrow with a bucket for a head who will also give you clues if you are not sure what to do next.A lot of the interesting aspects of this game come from Brown, your dog companion. It’s easy to draw comparisons here to Haunting Ground, but aside from having a dog companion, these are completely different games. I find that the dog mechanics in Rule of Rose are much easier than those in Haunting Ground. There is no need for the constant reassurance to the dog, petting, treats… if I wanted to train a virtual dog, I would get Nintendogs. Brown is very independent, plus he will help you find things, which is a great help for the directionally impaired like me. Have a key and don’t know where the door it opens is? Place the key in your inventory slot, set it to “Find” and Brown will lead you to where you need to go. he can also find things that you might not be able to see yourself hidden in rooms .My main gripes with the game are pretty much based on the camera. You basically have two choices: camera in front or camera in back, which is controlled by the front triggers. There’s no moving the camera with the right thumbstick, which I think we are all sort of used to having available to us by now. The load times are also slow, which breaks up the action more than necessary at some points.I’ve only played a couple hours into it, but I am definitely intrigued by what is coming next. I will bring you a more in depth review later as I play through. My consensus so far is, if you are willing to trade the swinging camera and fast load times for tons of moody atmosphere, creepy children and off-the-beaten-path gameplay, this title is definitely worth checking out. Since it’s a decidedly different flavor of gaming, I would perhaps suggest renting it first to see how you like it before paying the $50 for something you may just not be your cup of tea.

Flynn De Marco