Rule of Rose Impressions

Nice art, but where’s the game?

I tried to play Rule of Rose again today after almost a year hiatus. I don’t know exactly how to put this, as I know a lot of horror fans enjoyed this game, but I think that it’s terrible. There are so many problems with it I don’t even know where to begin. The game mechanics are simultaneously trite and poorly implemented; though you spend most of the game running around and investigating, the areas you visit are very similar (boring) and the running mechanics themselves are flawed. Combat is a joke; getting accosted by even the most under-evolved enemy peon is likely to result in your death because the melee mechanics are absolutely terrible, and each enemy hit does about three times more damage than any single health item can restore. The game design seems to be thus: find an item, give it to the dog so that he can use it to find the next item, repeat until you find everything or get really angry and turn the machine off. Finally, the promising premise of adolescent girl cruelty taken to the extreme seems to be wasted on meaningless dialog and repetitive missions.

The only thing that Rule of Rose seems to have going for it is its style. The game looks pretty phenomenal, especially the cut scenes (though the game is dark enough that I had to adjust my TV to maximum brightness). The style of 1930’s Victorian England works pretty well, and it’s backed up by some great art and music. The style is also cohesive across the whole game, from the user interface in the pause menu to the locales.

And maybe, for some people, style is enough. I touched on this idea in my review of Kuon, another game that has plenty of nice art and terrible game play. I suspect the people who are enjoying Rule of Rose like the style and the art and the premise enough to give the game play aspects a pass.

However, I’m not one of those people. I faulted the Silent Hill movie for being too much style and not enough substance, and I’m going to go ahead and fault Rule of Rose for the same offense. I should note that I’ve not finished the game yet, so my impression may yet change (it’s certainly happened before), but at the moment I’d much rather watch Rule of Rose the movie than try to drudge my way through Rule of Rose the game.

6 thoughts on “Rule of Rose Impressions

  1. Personally I enjoyed it, though I agree that game play is a little repetitive, and the combat can get frustrating. It really doesn’t start to get good until the end, but I thought watching the story unfold was well worth it all. Rule of Rose has one of the most beautiful and profound stories I’ve seen in a video game.

  2. I agree with you, Chris. And Tiffany. I’ve defended it before, but I would never recomend it to someone who couldn’t ignore game play for the story. In reality, that does NOT make a good game. But I thought the story was just so amazing, I couldn’t help but ignore the gameplay. Although recently, I’ve wanted to replay it, and that’s what is stopping me; I dread screaming the things I did with the enemies (the mermaid was fabulously creepy the first time, but after dying 5693 times, I hated the bitch). I doubt your impressions will change.
    Rule of Rose was made to be a movie, pure and simple.

  3. I agree that the gameplay sucks, I even think that it feels less evolved than the 1996 Resident Evil game. However I do not agree with the health items being powerless – there are items like minced pies, chocolate and white chocolate which restore huge chunks of energy, but they have to be found and sniffed out by your dog which is a very tedious task.

    But all in all I enjoyed the story so much that I played the game multiple times, because the game is not that hard if you run past enemies and know all the item locations except the mermaid which is easily the worst and most unfair boss in any survival horror game that I have played.

  4. I like the game alot though the fight controls are alittle iritating

    PS 1930’s victorian era?… 😉 (you might need to check up on that one!)

  5. game takes place in the ’30s and a lot of the styles are from the victorian era (certainly not edwardian!) what’s the problem?

    PS you misspelled ‘a lot’
    PPS mermaid boss fight = worst in history

    I am a survival horro fanatic and I think I speak for alot of fanatics when I say that gameplay is the least of our worries, and it is almost ALWAYS about style, story and the bit. I really liked rule of rose because of the emotions the game gave me, like all survival horror, and it was very creepy! Not to mention Kuon, which I played NON-STOP and beat entirely 100%, that game was AMAZING! I absolutely love almost every survival horror game I have played if it is TRUE survival horror…most hardcore fans would agree. It is the emotion, the story, the mystery, and the style…if Silent Hill had HORRENDOUS controls, it would still be one of my favorite games ever. Rule of Rose was a classic.

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