A Rose in the Twilight is the latest by Nippon Ichi Software the developers behind The Firefly Diary and Yomawari: Night Alone. Keeping to their unique, creepy and cute art style, A Rose in the Twilight continues on from where its predecessors left off while not being a direct sequel. Not only does it keep the chilling atmosphere and tone, but it also keeps the quality extremely high.
A Rose in the Twilight, like The Firefly Diary, is a 2D puzzle platformer with a unique twist to its game mechanics. There is no other game like it, though the closest comparison I could make to recent games would be The Last Guardian. You play as two protagonists: a young, vulnerable girl called Rose and a giant she comes across along the way.
These two characters balance out each other's strengths and weaknesses. Rose carries a blood rose on her back which can petrify or reanimate objects. She can use objects and climb ladders but she is extremely vulnerable to any attack or fall. The giant is invincible, can pick up heavy objects and throw Rose long distances, but it can not fit through small gaps or use ladders or objects. They need each other. This is the key to the game's story.
The story isn't quite as strong as its predecessors. Part of why I gave The Firefly Diary such a strong review is because the story really captured me by explaining everything through gameplay. A Rose in the Twilight is mostly show don't tell. The whole game plays out with very little dialogue, including the cut scenes you unlock by touching difficult to reach bloodstains. However, they have added extra story details by reading books and notes left around the castle which I found a bit of a bore to read. The storytelling would have been a lot stronger without this, but it is optional to read these.
The game mechanics to my mind are completely unique and makes for fun and imaginative gameplay. The puzzles are just on the right side of difficult. That is hard enough where you cannot see the answer immediately, but not so hard where you feel frustrated. There are many different kinds of puzzles and platforming sections, and new ideas are introduced naturally. There is only one boss, but learning to defeat her was just so satisfying.
What is slightly frustrating is the less than precise controls. Gameplay is advanced through trial and error and you often have to kill yourself to attempt a puzzle multiple times. The physics are a little bit inconsistent. In other words, an idea that works when you first attempt it might not work on the second. Actions that are acceptable on some attempts are deadly in others. Some stacking of objects can also become a little tedious. Some puzzles are quite long and having to restart due to physics quirks gets annoying after a while. This only lead to a few frustrations for me personally, and the physics and controls worked to a decent level for the most part.
The strongest element of this game is the absolutely gorgeous art style and beautifully dark atmosphere. The cute and well-painted scenery makes a great juxtaposition with the morbid atmosphere of the game. Rose kills herself in various grotesque ways in order to release enough blood to open up more areas of the castle. The monochrome palette with just hints of red not only help to extenuate the key puzzle elements but keep a consistent atmosphere. The music is a perfectly melancholy accompaniment.
A Rose in the Twilight is another strong installment to Nippon Ichi Software's library. It keeps the tone and atmosphere of the previous titles while changing the gameplay up enormously in a unique and interesting way. On top of everything, the artwork is truly special. Despite some control and physics issues, this is a must play title for fans of the previous two games in this series.
A Rose in the Twilight was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita with a Japanese copy purchased by the reviewer. It is also available on Steam.
A great 2D puzzle platformer that is a asset to the genre. The creepy, cute atmosphere, and innovative game mechanics make it a game which everyone should dip their toes in to.
- Gorgeous Art Style
- Great Storytelling
- Interesting and Inventive Mechanics
- Controls Aren't Perfectly Tuned
- Puzzles That Stretch Too Long