I’m so glad that I picked this game up. And I bet that the first sentence in this review probably told you the majority of how this review will be going, but since two of my last reviews were kind of pretty dissing, this is kind of a nice break. Also I was inspired. Now, some of you might be confused, how the hell can a puzzle game inspire me? And if I have to be completely 100% honest with you, I have not got the simplest of clues as to how, but now I want to sit down and play more traditional puzzle games. And here is a bonus. I’m quite well known for cheating in puzzle (or any) games for that matter when I get stuck, but somehow even if I got stuck here on a few occasions, not once did I reach the urge to go and cheat (don’t get me wrong, I had the guide open and all). I think this was because puzzles are quite unique here, but enough of this weird into, let’s get past the icing of this cake and go straight to the mushy, creamy inside.
A Rose in the Twilight is classified as an adventure puzzle game and we play as Rose. Now let me tell you a bit more about Rose’s story, because it was kind of touching, even if it was presented in a very dark and simplistic way. By that I mean that the game uses quite a visual way to present to us its story. There is 0 dialogue and quite frankly, the only text present are the hints and tips we get and also the Thorn Diary notes, which explain to us some stuff related to the main mechanics of the game, however integrated straight into plotline. There are also these things, called, Blood Memories, with which we get to experience what happened to the past inhabitants of the castle, in which we are stranded.
So here is the deal. From what I could gather, Rose is the daughter of the king, reigning in the castle. Something went wrong and everyone died and for some reason we were kept in the dungeons. Now we explore the castle to find out what happened. This is done, through the so-called Blood Memories to see what happened to the other people. Also we find books, in the library sections of the game and we read some backstory of the castle. Apparently there was some blood-sucking monster, and then there was another thorn-monster, which died by the golem, and the Curse of Thorns, which originated from it, and which we are plagued by now. The story is filled with mystery and suspense and it’s very dark-themed, so I really enjoyed it. At some occasions when Rose killed herself I was so having that WTF face and maybe never did manage to get used to it. I’m not going to spoil more, I’d much rather you experience the whole story yourself. It can be a while to understand, but you have to consistently read everything you get and follow along to grasp it.
As we covered plot, let’s move straight to the mechanics, because A Rose in the Twilight has a few very interesting gameplay mechanics that definitely do it good.
First and most important, we have color and tightly connected to it – time. The whole game setting is in black and white and we have tints of red on key locations. Basically this is tightly connected with Rose’s Curse of Thorns with which she is able to absorb these red tints from some objects and move them into other key ones, which are greyed out. This is how we control time as well – through color. The red objects have a normal time stream – meaning that they obey the normal rules of time and gravity, while everything else appears frozen in time. This is a very key mechanic to gameplay, because it’s the main thing we use to solve puzzles. Most of the time it revolves around using the colored objects or transferring color to other objects, so that we can use them. However, we can do that only with Rose, since she is the only one, who can control the power of thorns a.k.a color, so we have to guide the golem with us. However, he is not entirely useless, quite the opposite. Puzzles are made in such a way that both Rose and the golem are equally useful in situations, but I’ll talk a bit more about that further down into the review.
So, speaking of color, we have the Blood Memories, which I mentioned in the story section of the review. They serve as collectables, which tell us the story of the dead inhabitants of the castle, to which they belong to. In the game, they are presented as red blood splatters on the ground, and somewhere around (most of the times) we see a body, presumably belonging to the person, which memory we are about to experience. The interesting thing here is that Blood Memories are puzzles of their own. Most of the times each level has a complicated puzzle to pass and inside this level, we face another puzzle, or mini puzzle, which we have to solve, in order to get the memory. Now I said mini, because they are kind of easier than the usual level puzzles and I never really had much problems with figuring out their solutions.
The other really interesting mechanic or concept in A Rose in the Twilight is the concept of death. Now for y’all who like to see little girls dying over and over again, this is definitely the game for you, because here you will die … and the game will reward you for it. I’m not kidding here. You even have a button, specifically mapped for killing yourself. Not only is dying required to progress further into the game, but also you get trophies for it (or steam achievements for those playing on PC, like me). And for those of you who know how many times I die on such games, yep, you guessed it, those were the easiest trophies to earn in my life. Not to mention that it’s super easy to die in this game. There were occasions where I stopped and just told to myself “holy cr*p, you can die from this?!?”.
Seriously though, the amount of times I died and the ways I died, turned this fairy tale to a very dark and gloomy … tale. But I guess that was the point to begin with. Anyways, there are these rooms in the castle, called Execution Room 1,2,3,4, etc., before each section in the castle and if you’ve been following my thoughts, that’s right, you get to be executed in a different medieval device in order to open the path forward. Now, the concept of death here is very relative. Storywise Rose is kept alive by the so called Curse of Thorns and every time she dies, she is reborn in the same place from a flower bud. Gameplaywise these flower buds serve as save points. They are usually white in color, but when you pass by them, the game saves automatically and they turn pinkish. This way we know which flower we are saved at. Usually they are a few on each level, so don’t worry you can die to your heart’s content. Beside those execution rooms, the button for killing yourself is a nifty way to get unstuck. Sometimes I found myself stuck at occasions, because the color mechanic has a little nasty trick to it. When Rose picks up color, it is stored on the white rose, tied around her waist. However she cannot pick up anymore color, before using the stored one. Now, Heaven forbid you die with color in your rose and everything resets colors. Let’s just say, it’s easier to kill yourself or star over, than try and figure out where to store the unneeded color.
Speaking of start over, you can actually choose to restart the level from the map menu, by clicking on the room you are in. Also, on most occasions, you can backtrack fast by moving to specific tiles on the map, but alas, it can only be used to gather Blood Memories you might have missed, after you find the nifty little device, which shows their locations on the map after reaching the final room of the stage.
In the courtyard, there was another mini-mechanic where we lose the ability to absorb and use color, however we can fill the water can we find at the beginning of the stage with bloodied water from certain places (fountains) and use it to pass puzzles by watering plants usually or using it to color certain objects.
There is one thing I do wanna complain about, though. Why the hell does Rose fall on her face from every possible distance? It was ridiculous, where she literally had to jump from like a meter distance to be fine, while everything else was bullocks. Honestly, maybe that’s why I died more times that I should have, because I couldn’t really tell which height could kill me and which not.
Finally – the puzzles. A Rose in the Twilight, as a puzzle game, is a venture on every stage. Basically the way you progress is by solving each level, in order to progress to the next and each stage consists of something along the lines of 5 to 7 levels. I found puzzles very engaging. Each area was a setting of its own, in a way that it has a different way to tackle puzzles and some mini-mechanics to deal with it. In other words, you have to think differently each time, but sometimes it’s pretty straightforward, hence why I didn’t really cheat. But overall it’s always engaging and never really got repetitive. For example, you won’t solve puzzles the same way in, let’s say, The Library, as you did in The Armory. There were some “boss battle” puzzles (I don’t know how to call them), where it can get very annoying because some require very precise solving in order to succeed. And here came the trial and error part. Alas again, nothing that was off-putting.
Since we are talking about puzzles, let’s mention the golem here. Basically, the game features 2 protagonists, which we directly control – Rose and the Golem. This is a good thing, by the way, since I prefer this, than having to guide Rose through death and despair. Most of the time they have to depend on each other, in order to be able to progress, because you need both characters at the exit, to enter the new level. Each character contributes to puzzle solving in their own way (Rose with the colors and the Golem with strength). Also, the Golem can carry Rose and I got really fond of that feature. I loved carrying Rose around everywhere I went with the Golem (well, wherever possible, because he can’t carry her through thorns, otherwise she would die). It was kind of a way to make me feel like I was protecting her, which in a lot of times that was the case. When the Golem is carrying Rose she can’t get killed by some critters and she can’t die from fall damage, since the Golem is very sturdy and can jump from almost everywhere. I’m saying almost, because there is one place (the highest in the caste’s clock tower), where we jump off for a minor achievement and the Golem does shatter.
And speaking of controlling 2 protagonists, controls were very precise and responsive and … OMG I CAN MAP THEM MYSELF … THANK YOU NIPPON ICHI SOFTWARE … THANK YOU. After that enraging experience with Moribund and controls, I definitely needed this.
As a conclusion … let me think about it. The sole fact that this is a puzzle game and I didn’t rage a single time (well, maybe 1 time, but that was me, making dumb mistakes, because I was playing the game so late and I was getting sleepy, but alas very stubborn to pass the stage), is good enough for me a reason to score a solid mark. But seriously, considering all said and written, A Rose in the Twilight gets 8/10. It’s a solid experience and there is no reason for anyone, who loves or is the least bit a fan of puzzle games, or perhaps is just curious to try out something new, shouldn’t play this game. It’s very good, in my opinion and deserves some love and attention from players on whatever platform. I myself played it on Steam and am very pleased with it.
One last thing I wish to mention is music. While I loved the music, there wasn’t really that much variety to it and it did get repetitive at times, which I did manage to notice and it got kind of annoying. What I would have wanted was more musical variety and some more remembering tunes, because now that I think about it, the only one I could probably recall was the very gentle piano tune, usually played on memories with Rose.