Review: A Rose in the Twilight (PlayStation Vita)
A Rose in the Twilight: Official GBAtemp Review
Nippon Ichi? Check. 'Cute Gore', check. Appeal?
The visuals of A Rose in the Twilight strongly reminded me of Yomawari: Night Alone, and sure enough it's from the same developer. While belonging to different genres, both games bear themes of the supernatural and the same art style which I like to call 'cute gore' because of cute depiction of the protagonist, even some enemies, but deaths are brutal and blood is free-flowing; offering the protagonist as a blood sacrifice in atrocious ways to clear up a passage, or committing suicide to go back to a checkpoint are things you have to do in this new title to progress. Those are features you won't typically associate with a cute, little protagonist. Since I really, really liked Yomawari, I was all the more curious as to whether this new title would bring the same appeal.
Did it? Short story, not really. Long story, read on.
Offer blood to continue
A Curse, A Friend, A Story
Without much of a preamble, the game gives you control over a little girl, Rose, who just woke up in the dungeon of a castle in ruins. Oh, and she also has a giant rose attached to her back for some reason. As she wanders around the deserted dungeon, Rose comes across a giant rock golem. Initially scared of the latter, Rose's fears are quickly dissipated as she discovers the good nature of the golem. The two adventure in the castle together, forming an inseparable bond. Indeed, you'll need to get both Rose and the golem to the exit of each level in order to complete it.
The Rose-golem symbiosis
You will slowly uncover the questions that have built up during your playthrough like the story behind Rose's curse, the origin of the golem, the reason for the castle's state of ruin, and others. The storytelling is mostly visual and based from cutscenes obtained via blood memories (memory stored in the blood of the castle's staff corpses) and some diary entries that you can find on your way. Additional information can be obtained from notes and books scattered throughout the levels which add some backstory to the lore of the game. There are even little twists that unfold as you progress and depending on how you look at it, three different endings! (the first one is a bit tricky but the second one should be obvious since the game carries on after the credits roll, after which you'll play to reach the final ending).
Whee! Story time!
To solve each level's puzzle you have to use the characters' individual strengths and each complements the other. For instance, the tough golem can pickup Rose and other objects and is virtually invincible and won't die unless if it falls down a bottomless pit but its gigantic size restricts its access to some areas. The smaller Rose on the other hand is overly-fragile and her survival depends on your ruse of applying the level design and the golem's help to your advantage. Nevertheless, you'll have to resort to death, suicide even, in order to progress and Rose will reincarnate from the nearest flower. But Rose's curse is also her forte. The rose on her back can absorb blood from certain objects to freeze them and it can even be transferred to other objects which can then be activated or picked up by the golem. You can also easily switch between the characters at any time. This can be crucial in several puzzles where you have to quickly change from the golem to Rose or else you're caput!
A very touching friendship!
Which brings us to the core of the game: puzzles. Each level is a unique puzzle crafted for you to use your cunning to solve. But that's not all that is required, unfortunately. Several levels left me scratching my scalp more often than I'd expect until the solution clicked in my mind, but many more weren't solved by any number of scalp-scratching and imaginary clicks - but required surgical precision of the blood sucking, time-freezing gimmick, accurately timed jumps or memorizing sequences and hitting the right strings at the right time. The latter is particularly evident with the final boss which took an eternity to
beat memorize and apply the winning sequence.
This 'puzzle' reminded me of the surgery exam that I don't have
The game is also very slow paced; almost too literally since you cannot do more than walk. Sure it's a puzzle game and you need not rush it for fear of missing key items but when you have to grab an item all the way up a platform and come back down all with the help of a sluggish elevator and your slow strolls, advancing quicker would be appreciated. And if you die and respawn at a distant checkpoint in the process, all the more frustrating, not challenging!
Still a better love story than Twilight
A Rose in the Twilight offers a puzzle game that is often challenging and unique as it is frustrating, in a visual style that has become synonymous with NIS. It didn't appeal to me as much as I thought it would but I liked it for its touching story and the original way it unfolds, and I despised it for the broken mechanic that reminded me that it could have been a better game.
+ Unique puzzles at each level
+ Touching story
+ Original storytelling technique
- Frustrating mechanics
- Slow paced
- Monotonous environment
I've grown to become fond of NIS' deceptively cute appearance in their trademark 'cute gore' presentation of their games. The story telling is also done in an interesting way in this title..
The puzzles are all different from level to level and get gradually tougher to solve. But the flawed mechanic, precision and luck that many entail undermine what could have been a much more fun and challenging experience.
This is mostly a one-shot game unless you want to best your stage completion times but you'll have to bear with the mechanic all over again! Arrgh!
out of 10
(not an average)
Sometimes captivating, other times frustrating, the puzzles in A Rose in the Twilight use an interesting but flawed mechanic and delivers a touching story that you have to piece together.