Gamer dad who loves the classics, indies, racers and the occasional shooter. Have been in the industry for almost two decades now and am as enthusiastic as ever! #4theplayers
A Rose in the Twilight is Nippon Ichi Software’s latest game in the “little girl in a dark twisted nightmare” series. And, in a way, it is a lot like its predecessors htoL #NiQ: The Firefly Diary and Yomawari: Night Alone. In order to progress through the creepy castle, you will be solving environmental puzzles and collecting “blood memories”.
For all you happy gamers I should warn you, that A Rose in the Twilight is a really depressing game with a unique atmosphere. Although we see a lot of bright and colorful Japanese games, NIS get’s this uneasy creepy atmosphere just right. It is quite rare to find such an adorable game, yet for it to be so dark at the same time.
Rose wakes up in an abandoned castle without any memories. Soon enough, she realizes she suffers from something called a “thorn curse”. The castle has become eerily quiet, with dead bodies all over the place and buildings overgrown by some strange vines with thorns. Rose has the ability to absorb blood and use it to bring back color and movement to all kinds of objects like rocks, catapults and other items.
This is where the presentation really shines, as every usable object is painted vividly red whereas everything else looks grizzly, dark and gray. It creates a truly unique atmosphere which goes well with the game’s overly depressive story. It should be noted that A Rose in a Twilight features some pretty disturbing scenes. The main heroine must go as far as to even offer up her own blood as a sacrifice in order to progress through the ruins of the desolate castle. These scenes can be pretty graphic and may trigger some people. Not to mention all the deeply grim stories about the castle and its history.
When blood is absorbed from objects, their movement stops and they lose their blood red color. After absorbing blood from corpses and bloodstains you will also regain lost memories. These segments are presented in silent-movie-like sequences and serve well to prepare you for what is yet to come.
Although Rose is abandoned she isn’t completely alone. Soon enough she will find a helpful buddy in a form of a nameless rock giant. His ability to carry items and his invulnerability to thorns comes in handy in many environmental puzzles. Rose and the rock giant are a good duo and complement each other’s abilities quite well.
In one instance, you will be moving a rock using the rock giant and bridging a gap while Rose will be freezing it in its tracks and keeping it from moving. The rock giant can also activate objects, and operate levers and catapults to help Rose get to higher places. You can switch between these two characters by the press of a single button.
Rose’s movement is constrained, her animations stilled to the point where she almost feels like a porcelain doll; vulnerable like she could break at any time from a simple trip. Every time she falls flat on her face, I am afraid she is dead. On the other hand, the rock giant’s slow movement could be attributed to its strong build. But, overall, the characters are pretty slow, which can get irritating as you progress through the game.
While the mechanics can be engaging for this type of puzzle platformer, the overall experience was unfortunately hampered by a clunky physics system and somewhat unresponsive controls.
Most of the time, the solution to the puzzle at hand will be pretty obvious, but the sheer amount of time you will be retracing your steps battling the awkward physics engine can be really frustrating. There are relatively frequent autosave points and you can fast travel to any of the previous rooms you have been to. But for me, unfortunately, this isn’t enough to make me feel at ease solving many of the game’s puzzles.
Both Rose’s and the rock giant’s jump is rather puny. In order to progress through the castle, you will be required to reach quite a lot of high places. Expect a lot of similar, not that engaging catapult puzzles and overall repeated puzzles with similar solutions and outcomes. The latter part of the game is where the puzzles start to shine, but, before long, the game ends in about 10 hours depending on the player.
Considering its themes and atmosphere as well as gameplay, A Rose in the Twilight might not be for everyone. But there is definitely enjoyment to be found for the puzzle enthusiasts that enjoy more punishing gameplay and the game’s slow mechanics. Everyone else might find more enjoyment in NIS titles like Yomawari or The Firefly Diary, which are priced really well in the PlayStation Store.
It’s great to see titles like these keep the Vita alive and kicking, also considering the upcoming titles for 2017!