Rule of Rose - PS2 - Preview
Atlus has made a name for themselves publishing little known Japanese titles, but even Atlus fanboys raised their eyebrows when they announced that they’d be localizing Rule of Rose. Is America ready for a survival horror game that features a group of sadistic young girls as the antagonists?
I’ve seen most of what the survival horror genre has to offer, but none of it prepared me for my first few hours of Rule of Rose. The game opens up with a beautifully rendered montage of cut scenes that will probably make some folks a bit uncomfortable. You’re then introduced to the main character, Jennifer “the unlucky girl”. The game jumps right into the story, with Jennifer being handed a storybook by a young boy that runs off into the woods. After following the boy to an orphanage, Jennifer is kidnapped, for lack of a better word, by a group of children and taken aboard a zeppelin. I know this isn’t making a lick of sense but bear with me.
The zeppelin appears to be the main area you’ll be exploring during the game. After wandering around for a bit, I found my way to a door that led me to the headquarters of the “Order of the Red Crayon Aristocrats”. It seems the children have setup a make believe royal court with each of them having an assigned role. Jennifer is at the very bottom of the totem pole of course. The Aristocrats demand a monthly tribute so it’s off to find whatever the little despots are craving.
Luckily, you’ll have the assistance of a friendly canine named Brown. Brown follows Jennifer around and can be used as a sort of guide. Almost all of the inventory items you’ll collect can be set to “Find” mode. After choosing something, say a biscuit tin for example, you can tell Brown to find and he’ll sniff out something. In the case of the biscuit tin, he finds life giving biscuits of course. More often then not though you’ll be using Brown’s nose to sniff out clues that will help you get out of the strange plight Jennifer is in.
After a few hours of exploring I ran into my first enemy. I was following Brown as he hunted down a scent when a gray imp-like creature jumped out at me. A few awkward stabs with a dessert fork and it lay dead. I’ve run into several more of them since, groups of ten more sometimes, but I’ve yet to figure out how they fit into the story. The first boss fight made even less sense. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll just describe it as having a slightly deviant twist.
The game plays very much like the early Resident Evil games. Each time Jennifer enters a room the camera angle will begin in a fixed spot and follow Jennifer as she maneuvers. If you have problems seeing you can tap a button to reorient the camera to a location with a better view of the action. Combat is quite simple. You press the R1 button and hit X to attack. If an imp grabs you, you wiggle the left analog to shake them off. You’ll thankfully be doing a good bit more exploring than combat though.
So, we’ve got a zeppelin manned by licentious girls with control issues, a loyal canine companion, depraved boss battles, and lots of weird creatures running around. I’ve got a ways to go before I can give a full opinion of the title, but Rule of Rose is shaping up to be one of those games that mainstream gamers will never hear about much less play. If you’re a survival horror fan and you’re looking for something a little bit, strike that, a lot different, then you might want to check out Rule of Rose when it releases.