Some people have the tendency to gravitate towards a tale that makes them weep instead of ones that brings them joy. If we take a step back and look at ourselves, we are a strange creature that innately want to be happy, but find comfort in bittersweet tale. Perhaps, some of us are attracted to such entertainment because it acts as a mere reflection of our own psyche. We want to fix something that is bothering us so we evaluate the little things that trap us in a psychological loop. It’s almost a never ending loop until we find the answer that has been buried deep within us. Some painful childhood memories are better off suppressed.
Yes, I’m speaking of Rule of Rose, a psychological survival horror game released back in 2006 for the Playstation 2. Player experience the perspective of an orphan named Jennifer with her pet dog Brown as they unravel a suspense, sorrowful tale. I highly do not recommend this game to those who have a deep love for animals. The game actually brought some great discomfort to me even though it has a good moral message–for those who are passive and/or those who were bullied in their youth. It forces me to think about society in general–the relation between children and adults. Now, I understand why this game did not get a release in North America. Some of the themes are questionably cruel and not suitable for young people. Even the older audience might find the game hard to comprehend. I went to bed feeling as if my heart has just gotten broken after completing the game.
The game is artistically crafted and designed in a way where all things have a purpose including the monsters design. Yes, gameplay and story are intertwined. At one point, I was so frustrated with the gaming mechanics, but learned to appreciate the game design as I realized the order of finding weapons in the game (e.g fork, kitchen knife, butcher knife, shovel, axe) gradually became more menacing as the undertone of the story deepen. Gameplay wise, it’s far from being monotonous. Exploring/investigating, in my book, is a type of gameplay. Brown, Jennifer’s fury companion, is a great hunter and protector. If you are the type that like to play detective, this game is a good treat. You get the bigger picture of the whole game in the end, if you get the good ending that is.
The game overall, is quite well-balanced in terms of story, gameplay, music and visual. I would consider the game on par with Silent Hill 1 and Silent Hill 2, which are great games! I plan to re-play the game. Artistically, I’m quite fond of the atmosphere and the way how the story unfolds.
Rule of Rose is the type of timeless game that is on equal level with great books. It is a good representation on how the medium can be viewed as a mature, artistic expression that has the ability to dive into the human soul.
Now I really need to go find myself a pet dog–hug it and tell it: “I love you, and will always protect you until I die!”