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Rule of Rose Review

Developer: SCE Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: September 12, 2006 Also On: None

Some Japanese games are so incredibly out of the mainstream that they never see the light of day on American soil. This may sound selfish, but Americans seem to get passed over quite a bit. So would be the case for Rule of Rose, a game developed by Sony for Japan and until now, an exclusive release in that territory. Atlus, a respected publisher of imported Japanese games, is giving this unusual release a chance with the American public. I do not expect Rule of Rose to have mass-market appeal, but it certainly is an interesting game that may be worth looking into for fans of adventure games.

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You play as Jennifer, the main character in this story of a girl that has lost her parents. The “unlucky girl”, as they call her, gets sent away to an orphanage. As if that is not bad enough for Jennifer, the orphanage appears to be under authoritarian control – by the children. Many of the scenes that you will witness are flat-out bewildering and others are surprisingly violent. In one cut-scene, a maid gets bludgeoned to death by the children.

Gameplay in Rule of Rose is a mixed bag. This is an adventure game first and foremost, so if you are expecting action go elsewhere. While Rule of Rose does have a combat system, it is useless and the game itself warns against fighting enemies when you do not have to, so just avoid them. How affective could a fork be at fighting several gimps anyway?

One area where this can not be avoided is the boss fights. Fine, I understand that the developers wanted to put the focus away from action and emphasize the adventure elements. So why did they add the combat in the first place? If it is not going to serve a meaningful purpose, then I do not see a real point in even having it. Which begs the question: why have boss fights in a game that strips you of the necessary actions to attack and defend?

On the flipside, one of the more creative aspects of the game involves a dog that you will come across two or so hours into the game. Once you free him, you can use scent on objects to go on an investigative trail. I am sure this has been done before in some game, but probably not as extensively as it is here. Your dog will take commands, find items and signal with gestures. The downside to this whole experience is that you will sometimes not have a clue of what to do. That can be a big problem, especially if you are not provided with a reviewer’s walkthrough. Remember, GameFaqs is your friend.

It’s clear that this game came from Japan, but that also increases our interest level in a lot of things. The way that American game development is trending, Rule of Rose is a refreshing break from the constant ports, remakes and yearly iterations of the tried and tired franchises that we are all familiar with. If you want to look to a unique experience on the PlayStation 2, look no further than Rule of Rose from Atlus. It can be frustrating, it can be difficult and there is no reward with combat, but the storyline is compelling. I will suggest a rental for Rule of Rose, as you probably will not play this twice through.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.1
Written by Kyle Review Guide