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Halloweek #5! Inspiring Fear: Rule of Rose

hblf, lfneJason L Blair02 November 2012

The first I heard of the video game Rule of Rose was back in 2005 when I saw a strange little trailer announcing its impending release in Japan. This two-minute snippet gave no clue to the gameplay or, really, anything about the story. But the tone and music and glimpses of the story’s potential riled horror fans like me into a frenzy. Unfortunately, the game’s fate outside Japan was up in the air until Atlus announced that it would bring Rule of Rose to the States.

Of course I picked it up on day one.

Set in the 1930s, you play as nineteen-year old Jennifer, a girl whose parents were recently killed in an airship accident. We meet her on a bus traveling through the English countryside. After arriving at her destination, she glimpses a young boy who leads her down a trail. At the end of this trail, Jennifer finds an orphanage. Not one overseen by gentle caretakers though but ruled by three sinister adolescent girls who call themselves the Red Crayon Aristocrats. It’s their leader, Diana, who tests Jennifer’s worth through a series of tasks that take her around the orphanage and put her in the path of animal-headed imps, a bound mermaid, and a dog named Brown who not only becomes her companion in the story but an ally in the game. We also meet Amanda, a disturbed girl shunned by the Aristocrats who is only happy Jennifer is there because that gives Diana and the rest someone else to hate. And then there are other kids, including the boy who led Jennifer to the orphanage in the first place, but let’s leave them for you to discover.

The chapters, which run from March to December, are introduced by crayon drawings that set each stage. The cinematics that play throughout are creepy and chilling and pitch perfect. As you endure Diana’s trials, you learn the true story behind the orphanage and its inhabitants, including the connection Jennifer has to the place—something the girl herself doesn’t realize.

I try to only shine light on inspiration you can find either in stores, on a streaming service, or in digital distribution. Unfortunately, Rule of Rose is long out of print. Sellers on Amazon Marketplace currently list it at over $100. You may be able to find a copy of ebay, in the used section of your local GameStop (or regional equivalent), or in a secondary market retailer. As these sorts of games are usually hoarded, you’ll likely have to pay a pretty penny. Or, if you’d rather skip the gameplay and only enjoy the story, playthroughs exist on YouTube and such.

Rule of Rose is not a great game but its atmosphere combined with the twisted world of the Aristocrats is perfect nightmare fuel for Little Fears. And if you doubt me, check out that trailer I mentioned earlier:

For those of you who wish to dig deeper, you can also check out this Rule of Rose Wiki.

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