A Rose in the Twilight
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Help a young girl and her giant companion navigate a treacherous castle while unraveling the mystery of the thorns in this unique puzzle title. With its somber visuals and blood drenched gameplay, it is probably not a title that is going to appeal to everyone, but puzzle fans are in for a treat. A Rose In The Twilight can be a little frustrating at times, but makes up for it with challenging puzzles and captivating characters. If you don’t mind your puzzle titles infused with equal measures of cuteness and creepiness then this one comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Making progress requires teamwork, puzzle solving and some light platforming.

Graphics: Dark and moody, but very stylish.

Sound: No voice acting, but the music is suitably somber

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
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A Rose in the Twilight

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. | Publisher: NIS America, Inc. | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Unless you are incredibly skilled, dying is a common occurrence in games. However, as used as we are to seeing burly heroes bite the dust, it is a little more disturbing when it is an adorable little girl relying on our input for her survival. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled you are, it is impossible to protect the protagonist of A Rose In The Twilight from harm. In fact, the death of Rose, your precious ward in this game, is not only unavoidable, but necessary in order to progress. The good news is that Rose is reborn after each death thanks to a curse that also left her with a thorn stuck to her back and the ability to transfer blood to and from objects.

As the game opens Rose finds herself alone in a gloomy dungeon, but it isn’t long before players encounter another character to enlist in her escape effort. This “giant” which looks like a large boulder with arms and legs is the complete opposite of the fragile Rose, but in order to survive both of them have to work together. This means that while ARITW might look like a platform game, it has more in common with classic 2D puzzle titles like The Lost Vikings. After joining up with the sleeping giant, Rose and her companion must both reach the exit of each room together in order to move on. This is relatively straightforward early in the game, but eventually things become a lot more complicated.

As we mentioned earlier, Rose isn’t an especially strong character and even falling from a short height can cause her to land flat on her face. She will also end up dead in a puddle of blood if the height is too great, so care must be taken when navigating the various platforms. The giant has no such problems and will land safely as long as he doesn’t fall into a bottomless pit. However, he is unable to fit through small corridors, climb ladders or interact with certain obstacles in the same way as Rose. What he can do is pick up and throw things, including Rose, which can end in a fatality if you are not careful. In addition, the giant is also able to walk unscathed through thorns that would instantly kill Rose. The result is that players have to constantly switch between the two characters while making use of their abilities to reach the exit.

With Rose being as fragile as she is, it is a good thing that her death is never permanent. Instead, she is always reborn at the nearest checkpoint. Some of these deaths are avoidable, but there are also times when Rose has to sacrifice herself in order to proceed through a locked door.

These scenes are particularly disturbing as it sees Rose placing her head in a noose, on a guillotine or even willingly stepping into an iron maiden. Although not excessively gory, these scenes can be bloody and are obviously quite shocking. Rose isn’t the only one that meets a gruesome fate in the game either. Scattered throughout the castle and its many rooms you’ll also find blood spattered scenes where other people met their demise. Thanks to her ability to absorb blood, Rose can activate these scenes, which triggers a short vignette that shows how the deceased met their fate. Players have to view a certain amount of these blood memories to unlock new areas, but in addition to finding them, some are also tricky to access and require more puzzle solving.

Rose’s primary ability is to drain blood out of objects and into the flower she carries. The blood can then be infused into another object to make it usable. For example, a barrel that is infused with blood can be carried by the giant or used by Rose to hide inside or the blood can be used to activate switches. Removing the blood from objects not only renders them inactive, but also immobile. This is particularly useful for suspending objects in mid-air to use as platforms or to prevent deadly ceiling spikes from impaling Rose. Along the way Rose will also make use of additional skills, such as a blood filled watering can, but these tend to be confined to certain areas.

A Rose In The Twilight is not an excessively difficult game, but some of the puzzles do require precise timing. It can frequently be frustrating, but the frustration tends to stem from figuring out how to solve a puzzle and then struggling to execute the solution efficiently enough. Puzzles often require you to switch back and forth between characters and making one small mistake might result in you having to start over. We were also caught out a few times by areas where the most efficient solution to a puzzle appeared to hinge on carrying something with from a previous area. If Rose dies and reappears at a checkpoint this can cause objects to rest as well and sometimes even become inaccessible which is a real nuisance. It is rather telling that Rose has the ability to commit suicide by holding down a button, but there were also instances where we had to restart an entire room due to making a mistake. This is certainly not a deal-breaker, but those who are impatient or easily frustrated beware.

The game is also available on the Playstation Vita, but the PC version doesn’t look like it suffered in any way because of this. The visuals are beautiful and feature a painterly style that looks great in high definition. Backgrounds are mostly monochromatic and not very detailed, but the result is that the red blood you frequently see looks even more vivid. The animations are a little sparse and definitely look somewhat stiff at times, but overall we are impressed by the graphics. The same can be said about the audio which is just as sparse, but suitably spooky. The game doesn’t feature any voice acting, but players just have to look at Rose’s expression or posture to understand what she is feeling. Although the story is a little obtuse in the beginning, it does start to make sense as you delve deeper into the mysteries of the game. We used an Xbox 360 controller for maneuvering Rose and the giant, which works great, although the game is more than playable using a keyboard too. Character movement can feel a tad slow until you get used to it and it is a little annoying that Rose can only store in blood charge at a time. We do appreciate the fact that the game features a map that allows for fast travel to previous locations and blood memory spots are also marked on the map.

Players who have not yet experienced A Rose In The Twilight on the Vita and love puzzle titles are in for a treat with this game. It is not for the easily frustrated or anyone squeamish about blood, but it offers a decent challenge along with some captivating visuals. We have played games with a similar look to this one, but in terms of style and atmosphere, it is in a class of its own.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 10/8.1/7
  • Processor: Core i3-2100 3.10 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphic 2000
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Onboard
  • OS: Windows 10/8.1/7
  • Processor: Core i3-6100 3.70 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce GTX 560 Ti
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Onboard

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