Dark, atmospheric and at times gory. These are the words I’d use to describe A Rose in the Twilight. At a basic level, it’s a puzzle game but there is a beauty in its black, white and red presentation that makes it stand out from other games I’ve played this year.
You play as Rose. A young girl that wakes up with no memory in a castle surrounded by deadly thorns. Using the white rose on her back, she discovers she has the ability to slow down time, suck the blood out of red objects and corpses and transfer it into white objects. Red objects can move or be moved whereas white objects are stationary and cannot be moved at all, even if they are in mid-air. Many of the puzzles in the game make use of Rose’s ability to absorb and transfer blood.
Early on in the game, Rose comes across her guardian, a large, stone giant. The giant is able to lift most objects (including Rose) and throw them. He can also survive any fall and walk through thorns. It is far more durable than Rose who dies very frequently even from falls that don’t seem that high.
The game is split into multiple puzzle rooms where the main objective is to figure out a way to get both Rose and the Giant to the other end of the room. The puzzles vary in difficulty and some are particularly clever. The rooms get longer as you proceed in the game with multiple puzzles to figure out. Sometimes rely on you remembering objects you saw at the start of the room and using them to overcome the final hurdle. The game makes you feel pretty smart at times when you solve a tricky puzzle. None of the puzzles were overly difficult though. Some came down to timing which were the most annoying in the game and which caused me the most deaths because Rose moves very slowly. It adds to the tension for Rose to move so slowly and it also demonstrates just how helpless she is, but at times I found myself wishing her to move faster, especially when repeating sections due to an unfair death. Rose’s movement and fragility were a cause of frustration for me. It takes very little for Rose to die. Additionally, it wasn’t always clear at times which thorns would kill Rose and which were part of the background. This again led to some annoying deaths.
While the puzzles were interesting, the story and style of the game was what really sold it for me. The story is told through red and black flashbacks that occur when Rose collects the blood memory of a corpse. The silent story-telling was very effective at creating a mystery to Rose’s story that drove me onwards to understand how the castle had become surrounded by thorns, who the giant was and how did Rose end up in the castle. The music was somber, really suiting the style of the game. Although Rose herself looked like a cute anime child, almost doll-like, the situations she was put in really emphasised the sad and gory nature of the game. To open doors to new areas Rose had to sacrifice herself in new ways for instance hanging, guillotine, etc. Each time you interacted with the new murder device Rose would slowly and apprehensively let herself be killed after which you’d watch the blood drip down and open the door. It was a shocking moment to witness the first time and makes the game more impactful.
Each puzzle room can be replayed and the game keeps score of how long it takes to finish each room. There are plenty of checkpoints through the rooms so even when you die (and you will, many times!) you’ll never have to repeat too much of a stage. There are times when you make a mistake and need to restart at a checkpoint. To do this you need to hold select for around 5 seconds. You’ll hear a crack sound as Rose snaps her neck committing suicide. It’s an especially dark way to restart at a checkpoint.
A Rose in the Twilight took me around 8 hours to finish with the final ending and also collecting all blood memories. There is some replay value in trying to improve your time in each room in order to get the platinum trophy. A Rose in the Twilight isn’t a game I’d say I enjoyed in the way I would traditionally find video games fun. It was dark and gruesome but that was what the game was aiming to be. It may not be particularly long and I did get frustrated at times with the speed of the gameplay, but it is a memorable experience that I am glad I played.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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