My Thoughts on Rule of Rose

Some people have the tendency to gravitate towards a tale that makes them weep instead of ones that brings them joy.  If we take a step back and look at ourselves, we are a strange creature that innately want to be happy, but find comfort in bittersweet tale.  Perhaps, some of us are attracted to such entertainment because it acts as a mere reflection of our own psyche.  We want to fix something that is bothering us so we evaluate the little things that trap us in a psychological loop.  It’s almost a never ending loop until we find the answer that has been buried deep within us. Some painful childhood memories are better off suppressed.

RuleofRose
Picture Source

Yes, I’m speaking of Rule of Rose, a psychological survival horror game released back in 2006 for the Playstation 2.  Player experience the perspective of an orphan named Jennifer with her pet dog Brown as they unravel a suspense, sorrowful tale.  I highly do not recommend this game to those who have a deep love for animals. The game actually brought some great discomfort to me even though it has a good moral message–for those who are passive and/or those who were bullied in their youth.  It forces me to think about society in general–the relation between children and adults. Now I understand why it did not get a release in North America (the video game store I went to never got the game. Only the case was on displayed).  Some of the themes are questionably cruel and not suitable for young people.  Even the older audience might find the game hard to comprehend.  I went to bed feeling as if my heart has just gotten broken after completing the game.

The game is artistically crafted and designed in a way where all things have a purpose including the monsters design.  Yes, gameplay and story are intertwined.  At one point, I was so frustrated with the gaming mechanics, but learned to appreciate the game design as I realized the order of finding weapons in the game (e.g  fork, kitchen knife, butcher knife, shovel, axe) gradually became more menacing as the undertone of the story deepened.   Gameplay wise, it’s far from being monotonous.   Exploring/investigating, in my book, is a type of gameplay.  Brown, Jennifer’s fury companion, is a great hunter and protector.  If you are the type that like to play detective, this game is a good treat.  You get the bigger picture of the whole game in the end, if you get the good ending that is.

The game overall, is quite well-balanced in terms of story, gameplay, music and visual.  I would consider the game on par with Silent Hill 1 and Silent Hill 2, which are great games! I plan to re-play the game.  Artistically, I’m quite fond of the atmosphere and the way how the story unfolds.

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Rule of Rose is the type of timeless game that is on equal level with great books.  It is a good representation on how the medium can be viewed as a mature, artistic expression that has the ability to dive into the human soul.

P.S

Now I really need to go find myself a pet dog–hug it and tell it: “I love you, and will always protect you until I die!”

 

 

Kuon: An Enlightening Survival-Horror Video Game

Kuon, developed by FromSoftware, was one of the survival-horror video games I tried to squeeze in the month of October because of Halloween, but I ended up playing it into November.  It took me a month to complete  because I took my time and did not play every day. You can complete the game in 10 hours or less. Despite the short length of the game, Kuon is exceptionally great and is now on my top list of favorite games. Let me explain.

kuon-game

The art direction in this game is superb as it reveals a simple but strong plot. The  use of sound effects and music created an intense horrific and isolating atmosphere. There were a few times, I was startled.  And yet, at times, it was not all scary. The sound of nature (i.e footsteps, stream, wind) can be heard throughout the game, giving life to the atmosphere.

The placement of the sound effects ( monsters groaning, monk chanting in the temple, the twins singing) in the game were not overdone or overused. They all served a purpose and integrated really well to build suspense and tension. They also acted as subtle cue to steer me to the right direction, without acknowledging that I was playing the game. I was in the game.

Lastly, the three different protagonists (all females with unique personality)  which were played in three different phases, summarized the story so well that it left me feeling awe and sorrowfully happy.

Because of the game’s art direction, I was drawn to the game and understood the plot. This game is about the perversion of immortality. The father is so  driven to perfect the spells at the expense of his own daughter’s life and his disciples that he loses his humanity. The father, an authoritative figure, is evil and must be defeated by  the master exorcist, who is like a motherly figure. She rebukes the father and put things back in order.

This was the impression I got from the playing the game. Without the  art direction in this game, the story might have not been told well. It might have been another horror video game. But this one is special. It taught me something: We will die one day, why not enjoy the life we are given now in the present moment instead of tampering with something beyond our scope of reasoning?