Rule of Rose

  • by Rice Burner
  • September 15, 2006 00:00 AM PST

Set in a weird dream-like reality, Rule of Rose takes the innate Freudian primal urges that dwell beneath your collective unconscious and forcefully slaps you in the face with it. Add in a dash of psychodrama thriller, the look and feel of the classic survivor horror game Silent Hill and a dash of homoerotic Alice and Wonderland vibe and you've got the recipe for an unctuous stew of mind-tripping madness. But is it fun to play?

"Look, dog, I know you're smart, but leave the door opening to me. I've got thumbs.

Die Horrible Faceless Kid, Die!

In the game, you assume the role of Jennifer, a demure and timid young girl who ends up stranded in an abandoned orphanage run by homicidal female rugrats with a penchant for sadistic torture and inflicting emotional and mental abuse. Jennifer must survive in this horrific environment with only her wits and ingenuity as her tools.

As you slowly progress through the game, you'll befriend a dog, Brown, who will act as your guide and ally. Brown will alert you to clues, hidden items, and even distract foes from morbidly turning you into a lump of inanimate flesh.

Can't Dog Eat Dirt?

The game plays with your perceptions of what is and isn't normal. Almost all the adversaries in the game are either very disturbed children or monstrously grotesque and bizarre monsters. Add to that eerie nonlinear dream-like sequences hinting at unrequited lesbian love and an overwhelming feeling of being helpless to the mix, and you'll need a psychology degree to make sense of it all.

While the story and premise of Rule of Roses is intoxicatingly intriguing, the gameplay implementation is sorely lacking. The game progresses at an absurdly slowly pace. Many items that you will find are completely useless and you generally will wander around quite a bit before advancing through the plot.

Rule #253 of surviving a horror game: don't wander outside in the dark

Rule #253 of surviving a horror game: don't wander outside in the dark

I Got Your Monthly Tribute Right Here

Even the battle sequences where you're confronted by the weird fantasy horror monsters seem contrived and out of place. Most survival horror games fall into two camps: either it operates on the physical, action level or it resides squarely in the psychological, mess-with-your-mind level. While Rule or Rose belongs to the latter camp, you'll be constantly forced put your character in harms way to progress through the game.

Rule of Roses is a decent addition to the survival-horror/psycho-horror genre and at its best, is an intense thrill-ride experience. However, to get to these moments, you have to endure a flawed presentation and design elements. Rule of Roses is definitely worth checking out over a weekend, but do yourself a favor and rent before you buy.

What does that drawing on the wall look like to you? Wait, don't answer that.

What does that drawing on the wall look like to you? Wait, don't answer that.

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