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Rule of Rose - is the most controversial survival horror ever created any good?

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Posted 05-30-2010 at 09:42 AM by December Man
Updated 07-03-2010 at 06:03 AM by December Man

In case you've never heard of Rule of Rose and the controversies surrounding it; there were on the grounds of game's erotic undertones involving a cast of female minors and animal cruelty. These themes ARE present mind you. However, there were also many false accusations, such as the supposed burying people alive, explicit sexual scenes etc. For more detailed information see the wikipedia page. I can summarize that it all involved the EU justice minister Franco Frattini, a group of MEPs, several other EU officials and... the Polish Minister of Education.

[url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_rose#Controversy[/url]


Aside from that, the gamers had other type of problems. Such as the supposedly awful gameplay and boring story. But before I present my take on the subject, a short summary of said story in case you don't know what the game is about.

Set in 1930s England, the plot revolves around a nineteen-year-old girl named Jennifer, who becomes trapped in a world ruled by young girls who have established a class hierarchy called the Red Crayon Aristocrats.

You don't need to know more, except that this is a recipe for a brilliant and original game, since no other has had such a storyline.

Except that the gameplay sucks. Hard. You run around, to and froing like a headless chicken, through lifeless, boring, gray and brownish areas. The combat is broken, and thus frustrating, unless you tap the attack button with 0.5s intervals, then it magically works(point is that in the 3 hit combo, the subsequent two hits very rarely register hits on enemies for some reason, so best is to avoid doing it). The puzzles are very simple and the only problems non-combat wise you might encounter is the lack of ideas as to where to go next.

As for the scariness factor. It seems to be directed at a certain audience. It didn't scare me at all, but some people may find it very frightening.

A short note on the music. It is clearly a love-hate relationship. Short, looped orchestral pieces. Great, but way too short in my opinion.

But the story... ah, the story! The game is told like a twisted fairy tale. It's divided into chapters put into a non-chronological timeline. You have to piece it all together. As much as it might seem confusing and convoluted, a lot of it gets explained in the interactive ending(but only if you got the good conclusion with the final boss prior). It is the only video game story I know of that doesn't have surprising and shocking twists, and it explains some problems thoroughly AND instead of ruining it by doing so, it helps appreciating how incredible and thought provoking it is.

The plot is uncommonly compelling and unfolded so impeccably that it can carry you through the horrible gameplay separating the extremely frequent, and beautifully done, cut-scenes.

At its heart, it is a story of childhood bullying, friendship lost, and a deep, overpowering feeling of helplessness and loneliness.

A more cruel female version of Lord of the Flies.

Be warned though, if you dislike very weak protagonists, you ARE going to be annoyed.

In summary, if you are patient enough to suffer through the poor gameplay, you are going to thank yourself for it.

Because it truly is 'A story too cruel-too beautiful-to ever go untold'...
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