There are certain games that when you see videos and screenshots make you say “Hey, I want to play that game.” [i]Rule of Rose[/i] was one such game for me. One night while watching Nocturnal Emissions on G4, a trailer was played for [i]Rule of Rose[/i]. The game immediately captured my eye just because of the unusual video that depicted these strange little girls, a dog, and the main female character. I thought, “Well that game sure looks twisted, I’ve got to play it!” As the saying goes “looks aren’t everything” and never has this been more evident than with [i]Rule of Rose[/i].
The premise of the game revolves around your character Jennifer and the strange children of a desolate orphanage in the woods. The children have established their own club called the Red Crayon Aristocrats. They have even established their own hierarchy/class system for each child in the orphanage. Since Jennifer is the new girl, she is placed at the bottom of the hierarchy with no rights or privileges except to do the bidding of the Aristocrat club. The club demands a new present or task must be performed monthly by the children in the lower levels. The children call their twisted monarchy the “[i]Rule of Rose[/i].”
At first the game plays just like a standard survival horror game that I’m sure most of you have played before. You move Jennifer around from room to room, opening doors, picking up items, opening doors, back tracking, opening more doors, using items and clues to solve puzzles and opening more doors. Did I already mention opening doors? Let me count, 1, 2, 3, 4 times, OK. I just wanted to make sure I don’t leave this part out about the game. Sure, I know we’re supposed to be exploring a frightening and mysterious location but do we really have to have so many doors to open? Oh that’s right; this game does the typical “you can’t open this door until later in the game” thing. This inevitably leads you to try and figure out which doors you can actually open by trying to open every single door. What a concept. Granted this isn’t a new idea to gaming and will actually be around forever, but in [i]Rule of Rose[/i] it just got old quick. When you are exploring a Zeppelin that has sleeping quarters it ends up being a ton of doors that you have to try and open.
The dog you see in the videos and pictures does actually play a huge part of the game. Once you find the dog you then are presented with an option to find items. This is done by issuing a command to the dog to have him search for the same item or an item that could be connected to the object he’s searching for. If you forget to use the find feature be prepared to keep hunting aimlessly wondering just what in the world you’re missing.
Even with the typical gameplay of exploring and backtracking, the game’s presentation & story do a commendable job of keeping you on the edge of your seat. The cutscenes in the game are some of the best that I’ve seen on the PS2. All of the cutscenes are computer generated with tremendous detail in all of the graphics from the character faces, animations, and backgrounds. The regular gameplay graphics aren’t as impressive but still shouldn’t disappoint PS2 owners. The storyline is very weird and could be questionable to some gamer’s beliefs. The game hints at bullying, animal cruelty, and at times underage sex. This definitely isn’t a game for the under 18 crowd.
The biggest pain in the rear end for [i]Rule of Rose[/i] has to be the combat. The game does a terrible job of getting you prepared for combat. You’re playing the game, searching for items when suddenly out of nowhere you’re expected to fight. The controls during combat are almost completely useless with you practically never hitting anything. I guess the collision detection is way off since I was standing next to a creature, swinging my knife several times but never hitting anything. It didn’t matter if it was just one, two, three or more creatures this problem happened all the time. Then when it comes time for a “boss battle” just forget about it since you’re probably better off hoping the game forgets you’re still alive and skips the battle.
PS2 owners looking for a game to creep them out and frustrate them at the same time won’t be disappointed with [i]Rule of Rose[/i]. If you still find it acceptable and enjoy survival horror games that play like they are from 1996 instead of 2006 then give the game a shot. Honestly though, if you must have another survival horror game for the PS2 then you probably will find some enjoyment in the game. To each their own since everyone has their own opinions and I’m sure someone will say I’m way off base regarding this game.