Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Platform: PC, PS Vita
Tested on: PS Vita
A Rose in the Twilight – Review
Even though A Rose in the Twilight might sound like one of the latest sequels for the Twilight Saga, it’s actually a lot more grim than one could and would imagine. NIS America brings us a tale of a young girl that is cursed with thorn on her back, that allows her to drain blood from items and bodies of the dearly departed, but also give blood to animate objects. With a cover text that states ‘Discover life through Death’, we were curious what this cute, yet extremely dark title had in store for us.
You’ll play as Rose, a very young girl that wakes up in an abandoned castle. Of course you’re quite eager to get out of the castle, but you can’t do it on your own, as everything is skewed and your young body can’t handle the many traps the castle throws at you. Nonetheless, you have one thing on your side, namely a curse that is placed upon you, which allows you to suck the life out of objects or grant life to items that are static and lifeless. Even so, after wandering around a bit you’ll find a stone giant/golem which seems to be very friendly towards you. Together you’ll be able to uncover what is going on in the castle, as well as escape this timeless prison.
Truth be told, the story itself is rather vague and unclear, but you’ll find some diaries and notes along your travels, which tell you a bit more about the curse, and the fate of one of the cursed children. That being said, the atmosphere in this game is spot-on, and perhaps it’s the vague storytelling that’s to thank for this.
A Rose in the Twilight is a very beautiful game when it comes to overall character design, the locations you’ll dabble around in and of course the many different backdrops of the dungeons and castle you’ll find yourself in. In many ways this game is adorable but with the overall grayscale of the game, and only the color red that is being highlighted it becomes a bit eerie rather quickly. Nonetheless, it’s the animations that lack a bit of fluency, as both characters move a bit statically and sometimes appear to be moonwalking over the floor, rather than actually taking steps.
You’ll also be treated to some cutscenes, which look a bit like a shadow theater, which also make this game a bit dark, as every cutscene revolves around those who have perished within the castle walls. Overall the graphics certainly set the mood for this cute, yet very serious puzzle game.
As the game is void of voice acting, you’ll have to make do with a very tranquil soundtrack, that pretty much depicts that you’re the only living and breathing thing left in the castle, save for the mysterious stone giant that aids you in your quest. The music is atmospheric, and will never bother you during the puzzle action, which is certainly a plus as you’ll sometimes have to put your gray matter to the test. The sound effects are simple, but there’s something satisfying when hearing the loud thumps when the giant is walking.
A Rose in the Twilight is a puzzle game where two characters will have to work together to cross obstacles, avoid deadly traps and escape the ghastly castle in the process. While this type of game is something rather common, where two characters each have their own quirks or powers, A Rose in the Twilight adds an interesting and original mechanic, namely the usage of (de)animating objects, by adding or draining blood from said item.
The above may sound a bit complicated, but before long you’ll see that the castle is pretty much void of any colors, safe for the color red. The red items are those that are still active and thus move, operate or simply aren’t a static part of the background or the rest of the environment. Because of your curse, you can drain said items of their blood, and make them static, and donate the blood you stole to another item to make it move, or to allow a switch to work and so on. This mechanic proves to be tricky at times, as timing proves to be a key component in this game. You’ll often find yourself on moving objects, which you’ll have to render static midair, which proves to be rather difficult at times. Luckily the curse of the young maiden is one that allows her to die and respawn often.
Compared to the girl, the stone golem is a lot different, as he doesn’t care about small traps, can fall from great heights, and is able to carry items or the girl, and toss them in the air to harder to reach places. Of course, fall damage is a thing, and the young girl will perish if she falls from too high. Having to switch between characters is done fluently and you’ll notice that this game is properly designed with almost no flaws in the mechanics of both characters.
Even though pretty much everything in this title is great, there are a few mishaps that mess with the otherwise fluent gameplay. You’ll often find yourself in range of different items which you can drain of their blood, or vice versa, which in itself isn’t a problem, if the targeting system would respond better. More than often you’ll press the toggle button, and before you know it, due to unresponsiveness, you’ve already skipped the target you wanted to choose. Other than that, there are a few massive difficulty spikes in this otherwise laidback puzzle title, which can become a bit frustrating, if you were expecting the difficulty to gradually increase. We mainly think of the boss battles in such a fashion, as the pacing is totally different compared to the rest of the game.
A Rose in the Twilight it one of those games that is not for everyone, but if you’re fond of puzzle titles with a somewhat darker touch, this game will never disappoint you in the slightest. While this title, just like any other puzzle game, has a few difficulty spikes and annoying obstacles, you’ll see the credits roll without having to break your back in the process. The beautiful art style complements this quirky puzzle game, and as always NIS America knows how to deliver.
Note: For this review we were granted the privilege of trying out the limited edition of this title. The latter is the only available physical edition of the game, and while this did not have any influence on our review score, it’s a great addition to your collection if you’re in the running of being one of the few Vita gamers left. If you’re interested in the limited edition of the game, be sure to check it out here. The package includes a nice figure of the stone giant, a key-chain, the atmospheric soundtrack and of course a physical version of the otherwise ‘download-only’ title.