So, I have started writing video game related articles over at thegamersforum.org and wanted to share my first one here as well as link over. Check it out, and if you like it, visit the site, and keep checking back for more from me and the others writing. :]
Rule of Rose was released in 2006 and instantly became hard to find in any store. Due to its controversial sexual themes, Europe called for a ban on the game, resulting in the cancellation of its release. Despite being released problem-free in other locations around the world, it became increasingly hard to find a copy in stores. Within a year, new copies were nowhere to be seen.
The game starts off introducing reserved and frightened Jennifer, who is peacefully sleeping on a bus. A boy tells the story of a Prince and Princess as she slumbers. Upon awaking, the bus stops, and the boy runs off - dropping behind his story book. Jennifer follows him in hope to return the book, and to her dismay finds herself stranded at a bizarre orphanage. Here, children rule supreme and adults are nowhere to be found. Normal law is replaced by a hierarchy called the “Red Crayon Aristocrats”. Jennifer is quick to be put into her place through a series of torturous hazings, and is deemed “beggar”.
Rule of Rose is a unique survival horror game. It’s creepy, surreal, and has a suffocating and heavy atmosphere. While it’s not built solely upon scaring you, like you may expect from other games in the survival horror genre, it’s cleverly detailed; with symbolism that can be both shocking and terrifying. There’s a constant feeling of being completely alone, stranded, and lost - an unfortunate victim of the hierarchy. Combine those feelings with the unsettling mood and music, and the game becomes a perfectly disturbing nightmare.
A large gameplay element is Jennifer’s loyal companion, Brown. Brown is a shaggy old Labrador Retriever who accompanies Jennifer throughout the game. He can sniff out healing items, major plot advancing items, and even protect Jennifer when enemies are around. Rather than directly attack enemies as you’d expect, he stuns them - giving Jennifer ample time to attack or flee.
A dog companion isn’t a new concept to gameplay in the survival horror genre, appearing a year before in the game “Haunting Ground”. Sadly, Rule of Rose seems to take a step in the wrong direction with this element. While useful at times, Brown is slow to react and usually takes quite a beating from enemies - especially bosses. It’s best to keep a supply of dog healing items handy, due to his vulnerability. This is especially important, because without Brown specific parts of the game are inaccessible.
Controlling Jennifer isn’t a simple task. Controls are clunky, and serve to become a frustration in later parts of the game. Earlier on, Brown serves to mask this issue. His barking and growling frighten enemies into a fetal position which allows plenty of time to dispose of them. As the game progresses, however, enemies grow in numbers and are quick to surround Jennifer on all sides. During one point in the game, for instance, the player finds themselves trapped in an arena of sorts. Completely surrounded and unable to escape, you are unable to progress until all the enemies in said arena are dead. Moving within the area becomes almost impossible and enemies quickly drain your health bar - leaving you extremely frustrated. All the candy and chocolate healing items in the world couldn’t make up for the lack of control over Jennifer.
While controls are more than disappointing for such an immersive game, the story and subliminal elements keep the player wanting to go on. The story is full of sexual undertones and thought provoking symbolism. Even the music was intended to bring elements into the game while also building up the atmosphere. The bosses and disturbing cut scenes bring the game together in an outline of events bound to stick with you for a long time.
Between the constant battle for sanity and reality, Rule of Rose is a spectacular ride into a world full of chaos and child-ruled order. If you enjoy a good story and can get past the major flaws in gameplay, Rule of Rose is definitely an under-appreciated game that I recommend playing.
Article by Amanda Zinni
I know you guys have seen this before, just setting up my newer tumblr. It’s not done yet, but it’s going to be gaming related. News, reviews, lets-play series, and all the fun jazz. :3