Rule of Rose (Playstation 2)

Jennifer’s parents died in an airship accident.  As soon as she gets to the orphanage, she has to participate with a group of children who form a sinister society known as the Red Crayon Aristocrats led by the Princess of the Red Rose.  Their rules; find a specific gift for them each month or die.  Now Jennifer must obey the rule of rose with her only friend, a dog she calls Brown.

First, let me tell you, there is so much controversy surrounding this game that the UK banned it from their stores.

The one most common is lesbian relationships depicted between underage girls.

While there is some truth to it, that never goes any further than what you see in the trailer.  There are also many complaints about violence perpetrated by children towards other children and animals, and pedophilia.  What many people don’t get is that neither one of these things is presented in a favorable light.  It’s so that the player will despise and pity the evil little children while absolutely despising their headmaster.  I know I wanted to kill him.

I will say one thing; the game is very disturbing.  As for how much, let’s just say that if you can’t handle the opening scenes, don’t even think about getting this game.

The makers say that their inspiration for Rule of Rose came from Grimm’s Fairy Tales but unintentionally shares similarities with Lord of the Flies.  The game explores a world where children try to establish a society without a strong role model present.  Just like in Lord of the Flies, the answer is savagery.  The difference is that the savagery here is more channeled and less random like it was in Lord of the Flies.  Each level plays out like a chapter in a storybook, focusing on one specific character at a time.

The characters are essential to the game and deserve their own paragraph.  The Duchess Diana is one of the more interesting characters in the game.  At the start, Diana is very condescending towards Jennifer, believing herself to be superior.  Her behavior is similar to Regina from Mean Girls, in that she pretends to be friends with whichever member of the club she’s talking to while showing disdain for the one that isn’t there.  The only difference is that Diana isn’t afraid to use death or torture in her schemes.  The Countess Eleanor is just there.  She doesn’t approve or object to anything that happens in the game.  The only thing noticeable about Eleanor is her love of birds.  The Baroness Meg is malicious but not truly evil.  I would choose to describe Meg as blinded by her love for Diana.  She creates the torture devices and believes that the people she inflicts them on deserve it.  Amanda is, like Jennifer, a member of the Red Crayon Aristocracies lower class.  She is the overweight girl begging for approval, yet she absolutely despises everyone especially Jennifer who she sees as competition for the approval of the Aristocrats.  Amanda is an interpretation of a possible future for Jennifer.

The main character, Jennifer, is the least interesting character in the game.  She is timid and follows the rules of the Aristocrats, hoping that things would get better.  Unfortunately, that only makes things worse and as soon as she’s had all that she can take, she stands up for herself.  This might also be a clever metaphor for dictatorships and abusive relationships in that adhering to their rules will not end your suffering.  The only way either one of them can end is by taking a stand.  Brown is Jennifer’s loyal companion who’s bravery is a contrast to her timid nature.  He is the essence of a dog being a human’s best friend.

While the story and characters are amazing, the game play is terrible.  As Jennifer, you use Brown to find items, many of which can be used as weapons.  Unfortunately, Jennifer’s attack plan is swinging the weapon around or taking random stabs and hope that it hits.  Brown is useless in a fight, as he just stands there and barks.  It felt like the developers were working very hard on the plot and then realized that they were making a game.  Look I get that Jennifer’s never been in a fight before but when I play a game, I don’t want to fight a bunch of enemies trying to kill me the same scared reckless way I’d probably fight in real life.  At the very least, have Brown play a more active role.  He is a dog.  The worst part is that there are costumes with weapons that could instantly kill enemies but you can’t wear them until you’ve beaten the game.  By then, you probably won’t want to play it a second time.

The story and characters are brilliant.  It’s a shame you can’t say that about the game play.  I give it 7 out of 10; this game would have worked out so much better in the form of a visual novel.

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