Rose in the Twilight review: This Beautiful Rose Has Forgettable Thorns
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichisoftware America
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Nippon Ichi Software has been on an interesting path where they decide to make “indie-like” titles. In 2014 (localized in 2015) there was the bizarrely gruesome 2D puzzle platformer, Firefly Diaries; in 2015 (localized in 2016) my new favorite adventure horror game, Yomawari; and in 2016 (localized in 2017) Rose in the Twilight follows Firefly Dairies as (despite the aesthetic,) it has no problem being gory while also being a 2D puzzle platformer.
Rose in the Twilight follows the story of Princess Rose as she reawakens from her slumber. What she finds from waking up, however, is that the blood-hungry curse of the thorn has taken over the castle in the same way it has taken over her. To be cursed by the thorns means to have your color and time torn away from you; whether that means you die or become immortal are decided by the thorns. Along the way you meet a large creature whom you simply call “Giant,” and the two of you explore the ruins of the castle together. The game doesn’t have any real dialogue and most of the text on screen are just hints at solving the puzzle in front of you. The story is told in a ton of lore items; from books to diaries to peoples’ memories. The more you collect, the more of the world you’ll see. Memories in particular serve as the game’s use of cutscenes.
Exploring the castle feels like a weird dance. Early on things are pretty simple: the thorn’s power enables Rose to take away an object’s color. When that happens, the object (whatever it is) is stuck in place, even if it’s in mid-air. The color you’ve taken is stored on the rose on your back. You can only take one object’s color at a time and it’s gone once you’ve moved to the next stage. Once you’ve grasped that part, the game introduces Giant to you. Giant can pick up and throw objects and as you continue the game, this is where the dance becomes apparent. Once you find Giant, Rose and Giant must leave every level together. That said, they’re more or less always split apart in one way or another during a level, and you have to constantly switch between them to further advance until they eventually meet back up again. The puzzles themselves aren’t hard (although there was one cryptic puzzle that had me stuck for a bit), but the constant back and forth between the characters feels a bit time consuming and causes some puzzles to drag on for longer than it feels neccessary. It doesn’t help that the characters feel like they’re just taking their time walking everywhere either (even though their actual walking speed isn’t so bad).
As a fair warning, do be very careful with Rose as she is as delicate as one. This rose has no thorns and breaks very easily. If you can’t see the bottom of a platform you’re about to jump off of, I wouldn’t suggest doing it. Even if you pan the camera to then see it, odds are Rose will die and you’ll have to start again from the last checkpoint. There aren’t a lot of enemies in this game as it’s mainly just you and Giant. Rose can protect herself from enemies by taking their color away from them, thus stopping them from moving, or you can switch to Giant and throw them somewhere else as they don’t bother him, but the moment one is on Rose, it’s game over. Although there will be times where the key to continuing is to actually kill Rose.
If this game had to be summed up into one word, it’d be the word dreary. Everything from the game’s color design to even the music just screams this word. Due to the fact that the curse devoids things of life and color practically everything in game has a monochrome tint to it including Rose herself. The only things that don’t follow this color scheme are colored red. These red objects are what Rose and Giant can interact with. Naturally, if Rose takes away its color, then they can no longer interact with it until Rose gives back its color. As mentioned a bit earlier, the music in this game is remarkably somber. And if it’s not somber, then there is no music to be heard. The is practically systematically designed to make you feel down while playing it.
Oddly enough, in terms of likes and dislikes, there’s not really all that much too it. The game is simply average. Rose’s animations right before she dies is cute in a really sad way, and I love the aesthetic of the blood memories where everything is black with a red outline. Although, the aesthetic of the game itself is a tad bit troublesome if you’re color blind. This game has no color blind option; so in a game that’s already monochrome, the fact that the only color is red, and their marker indicators also being red does no favors for anybody. As mentioned earlier puzzles can feel long in the tooth at times.
This game tries to say a lot by only telling you bits and pieces which is perfectly fine. Everything about it feels very well constructed as I’ve never had any issues of any kind. In the end though, while I wouldn’t call this game boring, after I finish a session of playing it, it feels pretty forgotten which is kind of sad because I was ready to love this game like I did Yomawari.
-Some puzzles are too long
-Ultimately a forgettable experience