I initially passed over A Rose In The Twilight when I first saw it, but I’m glad I’ve finally given it a chance and got the opportunity to play it. It’s an intriguing puzzle platformer with a dark yet touching story that most players are sure to enjoy. With a decent price point, it’s a great way to spend an evening or two while enjoying an interesting story. Speaking of story…let’s get to it.
You begin the game as a small girl named Rose. Our small hero is the bearer of a nasty curse which physically manifests on her back as a bleak, grey rose. This flower allows her to absorb blood from the environment and pass it into certain objects to manipulate them in some ways. Most of the story is told through small flashback scenes that show her gruesome and tragic past. These are shown by absorbing special pools of blood that are cleverly hidden in some areas. These pools of blood and memories are a soft requirement for progressing to some areas and must be found.
The entirety of the story is told with no words. It’s up to the player to interpret what they see, however some of it is rather straightforward. As cute as Rose can be, the overall theme of the game is very dark. There are times when Rose knows that she has to die in order to progress, and even knowing she will be brought back to life by her curse, it’s still very hard to watch these scenes. Regardless, Rose must work together with the Giant to make their way through the castle, collecting her memories, and try to find a way out.
When objects in the environment are colorless, they are frozen in time. However, when Rose passes blood to them, they come to life and are able to be interacted with more. Rose’s curse is also a blessing. It allows her to come back to life at special flower buds should she fall to the castle’s many traps and threats. There are even areas that can only be opened by offering some of her own blood. These “execution rooms” are pretty dark and graphic, so a fair warning for small children who might be playing. Even though the animation is fairly minimal, you can still make out that Rose sees that there is no other choice but to offer up her own blood in these rooms.
Each area is fairly small, with hazards scattered throughout. These hazards become increasingly numerous as you progress. Manipulating blood between objects allows you to create paths through each of these areas and to avoid the traps you encounter. A nice feature you can find in your pause menu is a small map with which you can use to move freely between areas, should you miss a blood spatter for a story cutscene.
Along the way, Rose meets a hulking Giant. This Giant can use his considerable strength to carry Rose around to avoid hazards and even interact with things that Rose cannot. It can also throw Rose to otherwise inaccessible areas. Together, they compliment each other well and work upon each other’s strengths. You will find that the Giant is an indispensable ally in Rose’s quest. Their interactions with each other are quite cute and sometimes endearing, such as when he puts himself in harms way to save Rose from falling rubble or some other hazard.
Artistically, this game is pretty stunning. It has almost a hand-painted kind of feel, and it’s amazing. Everything has a vintage sort of washed out aesthetic which works very well for the theme of the game. Lots of grey and red offers some much needed contrast to set objects apart from the environment. Each section of the castle is unique, with pieces scattered throughout that distinguish the area from others.
Most of the game’s sound design comes from the atmospheric noises and tracks that play throughout the castle. They really set the mood and tone of each area, as they should. The audio for a game is one of my favorite aspects of video games for this reason, and I am a big fan of games that use the audio perfectly. Other things might seem a bit minimalistic, but they really perform well.
A Rose in the Twilight is one of those games that needs to be experienced for one’s self. It is not the same watching someone play it or reading about it. Simply explaining it to someone else will never do it justice. You have to play it yourself to feel the full impact. While it can be a bit slow paced, and by the time it starts to get really good it’s all but over, it’s still more than worth giving a try for the unique art style and touching story.