Language: Subs: English
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Inc
Publisher: NIS America
Format: PC, PS Vita
Demo Box: PS Vita
Synopsis: A girl awakens in a castle void of color and time, affixed with the Curse of Thorns upon her back. After meeting a sleeping giant, the two work together to escape. Help them unravel the mystery of the thorns and the history behind the somber castle.
This was a very interesting, but traumatising, game to play though. At the end though I’d have to say it’s an okay game that is only really let down by the story telling.
I’ve come to realise that I’m predominantly a RPG/JRPG player, so for games like this I do tend to struggle a bit with it. Platformers just aren’t my thing! Yet I have to admit that despite this I had no times of feeling like I wanted to throw my vita out the window, which was a pleasant and welcome surprise.
After playing this I had one thing flash across my mind, this is a Brothers Grimm fairly tale, not a Disney one! What I mean by that is that there’s no happy ever after running off with a prince. Rather it’s a very dark and even slightly sadistic story that unfolds. A young girl (and we’re talking really young here!) locked in a derelict run down castle and cursed with a rose growing on her back.
So, this game has a lot of things going for it. For me one of the key things is that unlike the platformers I’ve played in the past, this one is quite sedate in it’s progression. This is in part, I feel, to reflect Roses young age. She wades along and trips over anything and everything, including thin air at times. If it wasn’t for the setting, it would be almost cute….okay who am I kidding it’s still cute! Right from the start of the game you can’t help but get attached to the cute little girl.
She’s scared of just about everything, and is just so damned adorable for the first few minutes. Her response to the giant initially just made me go all soft and emotional. And frankly right at that point I was sold on the game.
Another aspect I loved was that despite Rose being a young girl, she wasn’t a nimble athlete jumping all over the place, a common trait in platformers. You have to be careful with how you fall as if you hit something wrong when you land you die, and if you dropped to far you died. This in turn slowed you down as you became more aware of trying to gauge the spaces and jumps.
As you work you’re way through the game you have a couple of objectives, finding the story scrolls, which unlock some story lore, finding blood memories, short scene of how someone died (hint: it’s usually gruesome and bloody), and unlocking the way out. Getting out is easier said than done, and for me this is where things got a little uncomfortable. The only way out was for Rose to commit suicide in a bloody way, her blood would then open the way and she’d respawn. What made it worse was that the game made it apparent that Rose knew what was going to happen, and was fearful. Wither everything from a hangman’d noose, to a guillotine to a iron maiden, the game pulls no punches! For me this was a little to close to home and made me a little uncomfortable.
However the meat of the game is puzzle solving, and I personally felt they were awesome puzzles. Some of them did frustrate me, but once I looked up the solution for them it was a ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moment. A lot of these puzzles require you to think out of the box and use both the environment and your silent giant friend to get things done. Honestly I found this to be amazing fun!
A lot of puzzles didn’t just have one thing to do either, quite a few of them would require you to do several things, and use both yourself, you’re giant, and the environment in ways you wouldn’t necciserily think of. Awesome work on the part of the developers to bring some interesting puzzles to the table!
The other area that makes the game a joy is the art and aesthetic, which I frankly love to bits. I genuinely regret playing it on the Vita! I felt it should be played on the big screen of my PC or TV so as I could really appreciate the art.
Using a muted and washed out pallet the odd deep blood red colour makes for a stark contrast. /meaning you would never miss a blood section. It did take a while to get used to the mechanic of drawing the blood from the item though. While said item was filled with blood it was moveable, but once you drained it it was frozen in place. This mechanic was used many times in the game to great effect.
As the game progressed I never felt the art got old or stale, it was always interesting to see, and always a feast for the eyes. This was despite the, as I said, muted and washed out pallet.
Unfortunately we now get onto the couple areas I found lacking. Firstly the music, which on the one hand I wouldn’t call bad. Truth be told I started off initially liking the music, but there was so little of it, and you’d have to listen to it many times over as you were redoing puzzles, that after a while I was tired of it and ultimately turned it off. Personally I felt this was a shame as he music was very thematic and fit the game perfectly.
Another minor gripe was with the save locations. A couple of times I found myself locked in a vicious loop because of the way the save worked. In the end the only way forward I found was to restart the whole level, which at times was very annoying.
Finally we have the story. As far as I know I’ve found all the endings, and frankly they don’t really resolve anything. Rather they left me with more questions than when I started the game. Whats more the endings are rather abrupt, leaving a WTF aftertaste.
All told I found the ending unsatisfying. I’m all for vague endings, so long as the game lets me understand a little of what’s going on. Throughout the entire game I never felt like I understood who Rose was and what was going on. And while we learn how she was cursed, it was again a WTF moment as it just raised more questions.
So do I recommend the game? Absolutely, everyone has to suffer like I have!! Seriously though, this game is one of those that I would recommend you to play if the mechanics interest you. But don’t loan it to an emotional friend or when they return it they’ll probably bring you a bill for their therapy!
The great thing about this game is that it’s so cheap, so its an easy recommend.