Rule of Rose is a survival horror game in which the player, who controls Jennifer, explores the game environments and furthers the plot by accomplishing tasks and experiencing cut-scenes while sporadically encountering enemies and bosses. Taking place in England in 1930, Rule of Rose centers on Jennifer, a young woman who is led to an abandoned orphanage by a small boy.
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Progression is heavily influenced by stumbling upon triggers at the start. There's not a lot of puzzle-solving, and exploration is completely arbitrary. After a dumb start, you get to the game proper, which is the opposite extreme. You mostly just follow your dog around, and don't have to think about almost anything. Combat is probably the most confusing part. Every weapon seems to have the same attack-speed, so every weapon is pretty much a straight upgrade over whatever you just had. The fork at the start is no faster than the axe you get toward the end. The game also has more combat than you'd think. It's just sometimes forced on you, but not integrated into the game very well. You don't explore and fight at once, and don't really have to worry about danger while puzzle-solving. Combat is boss-fights (yes, really) and sometimes just waves of spawning enemies (deadly serious). The stragglers you see otherwise don't really matter.
The game is by no means terrible, but it's way short of its contemporaries around the time. Resident Evil 2002 and Silent Hill 3 from 2003 completely smoke this game across the board when it comes to polished gameplay mechanics.
So, what's going on with its enduring legacy then? The story is legitimately interesting, and I usually don't care about that stuff at all. I don't factor aesthetics into game reviews, but I do want to mention that aspect for anyone that cares.
As a game though, it's perfectly mediocre. 2/5
Honestly though, it should have been a visual novel, a point and click adventure, a walking simulator, or a film. It is simply unplayable as a horror game. Ludic elements often mar what are otherwise incredible experiences.