Rule of Rose: Girls Gone Wild

…no, no, REALLY wild.  As in some serious Lord of the Flies action going on here.  Really, it’s more Girls Gone Feral but I thought this was a better title for clickbait purposes.

Ahem.

Uh, where was I?

Oh, yes.  Rule of Rose.  A game which is a bit tricky to talk about because it’s very difficult to separate the good bits (It has a really twisted and creepy story, which is probably why you are playing horror games in the first place) from the bad (the actual game bits of the game).  Nonetheless, let’s give it a go here.

First, the bits I liked:

The story, as mentioned, is creepy as all get out and I did not expect it to go where it eventually went.  There’s some things in here that would be bad enough if it were adults doing horrific things to adults, but this adds the extra shock value of “kids sure are awful, aren’t they?” on top of those.  Seriously, this is not a happy world to be in.

Also your character – Jennifer, that’s her name, forgot it for a minute – has a dog who is just the best dog.  Seriously, 10/10 on the doggo scale.

Furthermore, the bulk of the game is set on a massive dirigible, which is an uncommon setting and which has a lot of visual information to help keep you from getting turned around.

This is an important thing, and it’s something that a lot of games do not do well, so I thought it deserved its own side note.  Being able to communicate a good world to players is a hard thing for games to do well, because it involves giving lots of cues and landmarks.  Shenmue II, as an example of a game I played earlier this year, plasters every available surface with signs and shopfronts and visually distinct NPCs.  There’s no quest marker or compass happily floating at the top of the screen, because it isn’t necessary – the game has so many things to navigate by that getting lost is a rare event.

Then there’s the bad, starting with Jennifer, who is roughly the most passive character in the history of fiction.  I think you’re expected to cheer her on, being the main character and all that and inasmuch as horrible things she doesn’t deserve are generally happening to her… but at the same time, she needs a good pep talk and spine implant.

Chapter transitions take place when you faint.  You faint a lot.  I can’t put into words how much that annoys me.

When you aren’t fainting, your character is suffering through a fairly tedious Silent Hill knockoff.  Lots of corridors with locked doors, keys to find, random puzzles to figure out.  The pain of this part is somewhat alleviated by aforementioned doggo, who can be given items to sniff and who will usually lead you directly to the next required puzzle piece.

Also, the fairly straightforward dirigible bit is followed by one of the most tedious segments I’ve suffered through, where you wander through the confusing halls and rooms of a massive mansion until people throw enough wadded-up notes at you to trigger the final boss fight.

I’m not making that up.  Eventually I needed to pull up a walkthrough to find “oh, here is the threatening note that I haven’t had thrown at me yet.  I need to go into the library, then leave the library, then go into the sewing room and leave the sewing room, and that will trigger the last event so I can get on with the game.”

According to the helpfully-timestamped save files, I was stuck in this last bit for the best part of two hours, all of it with the same bit of music repeating over and over and over and I will hear it in my dreams.

So that’s bad, but I have saved the worst part of the game for last, and that’s the combat system.

I don’t expect that your average British girl from the 1930s is going to go all Heather Mason when confronted with eldritch horrors.  I expect a certain degree of squeamishness and the like, and that’s OK.  Jennifer, well… every swing, no matter the weapon, is this sort of half-hearted wiggling of whatever you have in your hand in the general direction you’re facing.  She frequently turns her head away from the weapon and just kind of pokes with it.  There is so little IMPACT to your actions that I entertained the thought that your enemies might just be falling over out of embarrassment.

You’re not expected to fight everything, thankfully, and the best course of action is generally to shuffle – I refuse to call it a “run” – past the enemies.

…BUT.  There are some mandatory combat sequences, and one of them in particular nearly broke me.  Let me see if I can describe the mechanics without giving too much story away here.

So, you’re in a room, and your opponent is strung from the ceiling by means of a pulley system.  They swoop down in a random, take a couple of swipes at you, and then get pulled back into the ceiling.  Not so bad so far.

When swooping, or sometimes post-swoop while they’re danging there, they spew out this repulsive green poison vomit stuff.  If you get stuck in it, it hurts you AND reduces your walking speed to nearly zero, so you will take a lot more damage while trying to get out of it.  The associated sound effects are… unpleasant.

OK, so, not the worst boss fight ever YET, just annoying?

The boss takes a massive amount of damage before dying, more than anything else in the game, to the point where I wonder if it wasn’t maybe actually a bug.  It took me 36 – I started counting, after the first couple of attempts – thirty-six hits with a meat cleaver to bring the boss down, and I could only connect with her once or twice per swoop and only if the swoop happened to be in a part of the room close to me, and only if she swooped down facing a direction where the initial vomit spew was facing away from me.

Oh, and there’s zero feedback to tell you that you’re actually bringing their life down.  There’s a blood spray when you hit them, sure, but no health bar or limping or anything to tell you that you’re actually hurting them – and with as many hits as it takes, it FEELS like one of those video game fights where you needed to do a side quest to get the super secret weapon that can actually damage the boss, and don’t you feel silly for coming in here without it?

So, to sum it up, I don’t normally file games under “better on Youtube” but I’m going to put this one squarely into that file.  It could have been brilliant if they’d worked on the actual game parts of it a little more, but as it is… there are better ways you could spend a dozen hours of your life.

On the bright side, I DID get this thing out of a clearance bin for a shade under $12 back in the day and apparently it’s quite rare and I stand to turn a little bit of a profit on it.  I will feel bad for inflicting this on its future owner, but hopefully they know what they’re buying.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in PS2, videogames. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rule of Rose: Girls Gone Wild

  1. I thought this was about Rumble Roses. It’s about a bad horror game though. One that I’d probably enjoy! I think I’ll check out a Let’s Play of this if I can find one.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s