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A Rose in the Twilight Review

Have you ever heard the original Fairy Tales? The evil stepsisters eyes being gouged out by birds? Pinocchio killing Geppetto, or even John Smith capturing and forcing Pocahontas to be his wife. These are the dark side of beloved tales many have never heard. Where victory isn't guaranteed, or even possible. There are no happy endings here.

A Rose in the Twilight Review

Introduction 

A Rose in the Twilight is an independent title developed by Nippon Ichi Software (NIS). After some difficulty getting a release overseas, It received two official ports to Steam and PS Vita. The 2-D styled adventure platformer quickly stole players hearts when the story was unfolded. Solve puzzles with the aid of the Giant to traverse through ruins and discover who you are and how to escape. 

A Rose in the Twilight is available on Amazon for $19.99.

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Rose finds the Crown to her kingdom

Story 

Say hi to Rose, befitting name seeing she has a flower growing out of her side, a beautiful little girl who has experienced something terrible in her life and has found herself in the confines of a ruined castle. Feeling as she doesn't belong here, Rose decides to escape. Subtle is the key word I would use for the story, as it never gives you answers for any of your questions. More rather it sprinkles hints through the game. Like other indie games of this type, story isn't told through dialogue. Rather its shown.

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Blood Soldiers attack Rose 
Along your escape you will find the bodies of soldiers. When you come into contact with them you are allowed an option to "absorb" their blood and learn of how they died. This is also how you learn about the main plot. These small cutscenes are pact full of meaning that doesn't make since yet. However near the end of your travels you will have "absorbed" enough blood memories to rewatch them in the correct order to understand the fate of the young Rose 
 
With no voice acting in sight, NIS was able to tell a tale filled with mystery, calamity, and sorrow. Seeing the events of the past play out in stark red and black cutscenes was rather nerve rackingAs you watch gruesome and terrible things happen to a character you attach to very quickly. When I had to force her into a harrowing situation, I fought it, occasionally refusing to move on knowing what she would have to endure to unlock the next part of the castle. But I had to go forward, and in doing so I sickened myself at times knowing that I was the one making it happen 

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Rose must absorb the blood from the block to move forward

Gameplay 

It’s a platformer if you've ever seen one. Within the game there is two different gameplay styles, Rose and the Giant. For the first hour of the game you will be limited to Rose until you run across the Giant. Who then joins you for the rest of your adventure. Rose is completely unable to defend herself, but early on she meets up with the golem-like ally  (the Giant) who is able to take on most of the heavy lifting – and throwing. Rose does have unique talents of her own though, primarily being able to absorb blood and transfer it into objects in order to make them come alive.  
 
A Rose in the Twilight puzzles are broken up by different rooms in the castle.  For the most part each room has obstacles that require you to manipulate different objects that are either obstructing your way or will help you advance. For example, there will be a platform that you repeatedly have to freeze by absorbing the blood on it. Once that object stops in the correct position, you can jump on it and proceed.  

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Rose finds the Giant for the first time

 
The puzzles themselves aren't difficult, more rather it has a difficult time telling you exactly what your character can and can't do. Many puzzles early on in the game require simply knowing that you can use your abilitiesLater on you will need you master these skills and learn when and where is the correct time and place. This includes character switching which is introduced early on in the game. By simply pressing E you are able to switch from Rose to the Giant and vise versa.  Mastery of this is critical in late game puzzles, being even just a second off on timing or an millimeter off a jump can cost you your sanity if your not careful. 

Sprinkled through every room are checkpoints. Just like other games this is used primarily for saving, however its not the most convenient way. Once the checkpoint is activated you will return there once you die. But your progress will be reset and the Giant will be in an obscure place. This wouldn't be an issue if there was more checkpoints or if they saved more than just your location. The more logical place to save is at the entrance of any room, seeing as you've made no progress yet, there isn't anything to lose. It may seem odd, but after dying time and time again only to realize your checkpoint was 5 puzzles ago.

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Rose must offer blood to open a path

Execution

How you progress in A Rose in the Twilight is by dying. The reason for collecting all the blood memories, besides learning the story, it to pass through the execution room. This is when its most disturbing. It comes to one of the multiple instances where Rose has to sacrifice herself in order to progress further. This involves everything from entering an iron maiden to using a hangman’s noose embedded with thorns. Rose is reincarnated again afterwards but these sequences can be genuinely disturbing to watch, as the limited but effective animation makes it clear that Rose knows what she’s in for and has no other choice. There are numerous instances where I felt downright horrified watching this little girl die over and over. And it’s a feeling that lingers as your progress, knowing another execution is right around the corner. 

Graphics 

For better and for worse the art style is simplistic. The washed out grey tint blends the foreground and the background making many enemies or dangerous obstacles hard to see. The contrast of gloomy grey and blood red makes it easy for you to see your objectives. But seeing the objective is only half of it. If the path to the objective is hard to see and tedious to traverse, it pulls the immersion out of it. I think a more colorful approach might of helped, while keeping the gloomy aspect NIS was looking for. There are definitely more way to achieve what they wanted with out washing out the colors.

A Rose in the Twilight Review - Rose regains her memory

Music 

Honestly I don’t remember any song in the entirety of my playthrough. Which is sad because the music was always helpful for setting the tone of whatever scene you were in. The problem here is that the same track plays over and over. There are some circumstances where the music will change for a cutscene or for ambiance, but these moments are far and few in betweenIt saddens me to say this, but while the music was fitting, It's just wasn't memorable. 

Conclusion 

A Rose in the Twilight surprised me in how much I enjoyed it, even when it started to test my limits. Its simple gameplay and level design make it easy to jump right into where you left off. However every rose has thorns, and this one has quite a few too many. It crafts a story and a world that makes me care deeply about its central character, it’s visually spectacular when it’s not killing you with its hard-to-distinguish artwork, and it touches on moods and feelings that most other games don’t even attempt to venture into. Maybe if the visuals were easier on the eyes and the puzzles got turned down a bit, this might have been a different kind of review. Unfortunately, like many Fairy Tales, this didn’t have a happy ending. 

PROSCONS
+ Wonderful World building-Too Short 
+ Interesting Story Frustrating controls and checkpoints
+Dark Themes 
-Forgettable music
7
Good

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