Rule of the Rose


posted 9/12/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2
For the most part you can dodge the enemies lining the hallways, but sometimes the game will actually force you to fight a couple baddies at a time. This is where Rule of Rose falls down, the game makes it extremely difficult to attack and defend yourself. Fighting is accomplished by holding down the R1 button and pushing the X button, but to make this process even more complicated you have to be looking directly at your enemy in order to actually hit them. The combat system is very unforgiving and often leaves you taking a few cheap hits after you miss by mere inches. And don't forget that the fixed camera angles are generally not positioned for a big fight sequence, something that puts you at a definite disadvantage.
This game play problem is especially apparent when you're fighting the game's various boss battles. You'll be going up against crazy people, a mermaid, and a whole assortment of other oddities, all of which are cheap and hard to take down thanks to the terrible combat controls. Many of the deaths in this game could have been avoided with a few minor tweaks to the controls, but as they are you will be forced to sit through far too many unneeded cheap kills.
The game itself is dark and very depressing. In fact, the game is so dark that I had to turn up the brightness on my TV just to see what was going on (oddly enough there is no way to adjust the brightness in the game's option menu). The game's biggest problem is the location, the air ship interiors just aren't that exciting and everything else is pretty boring. The game starts out strong, but it doesn't take long before the game gets into a rut that it can never digs its way out of.
While the in-game graphics aren't that exciting, at least the cinema sequences are aimed to impress. Each of the game's numerous cinema scenes is rendered with breathtaking detail. A lot of the scenes in the cinemas look like they could have come directly from a blockbuster movie, there is some real strong cinematography in Rule of Rose. Too bad the rest of the game is such a chore.
Too much of this game feels like it's an exercise in patience. Your missions often require you to do little more than follow the leader, you are constantly backtracking through one boring corridor after another, and you have to put up with far too many load screens along the way. Nothing in this game feels like it was added to be fun, it's all just a giant job. It doesn't take long before you start to wonder if it's Jennifer being held captive or if it's you.
Looking back at Rule of Rose I can't help but notice how short the game is. None of the missions are very hard and they won't take you too long before you're on to the next one. And while the game starts off strong, the middle half drags its feet and never quite picks up speed again. You really want to care about Jennifer's journey, but too much of the game is spent following the dog and collecting pieces of ripped up notes.
With its fantastic atmosphere and likable cast I really wanted to like Rule of Rose, but the game's slow pace and poor controls made it hard to get in to. If you can put up with some major game play issues you will be treated to what turns out to be a good story that is worth experiencing. Just be ready for hours of boring missions and bad lighting.

With its creepy cast and giant flying machine, Rule of Rose manages to scare up some real suspense. But too much of the game feels like a chore for me to recommend this survival horror experience.

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