The use of color is a great way to implement game mechanics. Games such as Portal and Mirror’s Edge have used color in unique ways to aid you in reaching your objectives. With A Rose in Twilight, the color red (and blood) is used to solve puzzles. The absence of color signifies a mystery or puzzle waiting to be solved, and it is up to you to unravel the game’s secrets.
A Rose in the Twilight puts you in the role of Rose, a girl that awakens in a castle with no color or passage of time. Rose meets a sleeping giant, and together they must work together to figure out why Rose is cursed, and to solve the mysteries within the castle’s depths. The first thing that I noticed while starting A Rose in the Twilight, is that it is a very atmospheric experience. Everything in the castle is void of color, and static as if frozen in time.
Rose has the Curse of the Thorns, a curse that apparently afflicts her, and gives her the ability to absorb blood from things. This curse somehow relates to the time displacement in the castle, as she is able to use blood she has absorbed to return color to items in the environment. Items frozen in time are static, while items she returns color to return to their original state. One issue with the game’s monochrome aesthetic is that there are times where it is easy to miss an object that you can interact with, or are meant to return blood to.
The controls for A Rose in the Twilight are fairly limited. You move, Jump, and look around. You also have the capability to absorb blood, read notes that give you details about Rose’s past, as well as the past of those who once dwelled within the castle. The haunting music, and the notes you find slowly help you piece together the sad melancholy that the game’s story entails. When absorbing blood, you also can find Blood Memories, which give Rose a glimpse into the death of the inhabitants of the castle. These deaths also help you piece together what happened there, though it does so in a rather morbid fashion.
The blood memories within A Rose in the Twilight almost remind me of the sequences in Valkyrie Profile where you learn about the lives of your Einherjar. These blood memories aren’t quite as detailed, and you don’t get to see the personality of the person involved, however, it does give you a glimpse into the fact that this once lively castle is now barren, forsaken by time and color.
Along the way Rose awakens a Giant who then is able to assist her in completing puzzles. The Giant can move objects with color and time. He can also lift and carry Rose so that if there is a ledge she cannot reach or a jump she cannot make, he can aid her in progressing. There are a lot of hidden blood memories to find, and through using blood crystals, (or rather, by absorbing the blood from them) you can figure out which memories you’ve missed. Finding the blood memories is crucial to getting the entire story of the game, however, if you just want to complete the puzzles and wander through the game, they aren’t entirely necessary.
A Rose in the Twilight is a difficult game. It requires a lot of thought and strategy, as well as trial and error. You will die, over and over; but the game is fairly forgiving with its checkpoints and none of the puzzles or deaths seem unfair. Interestingly enough, Death is actually a mechanic at some points in the game. You may come across doors that require you to sacrifice Rose’s own blood in order to open the door. Usually, there is a checkpoint nearby, so as soon as you respawn the door remains open. There is no handholding to speak of in the game, and instead, you may find yourself dying to enemies or obstacles a few times before you figure out how to progress. This can be frustrating, but it does lend to a sense of accomplishment when you succeed.
Despite there being no dialogue or voice acting in the game (aside from the noises Rose and the Giant make when they move or interact with things,) A Rose in the Twilight maintains a great sense of atmosphere and storytelling. It is not necessary for Rose to speak, as you can easily understand the growing friendship between her and her giant friend as they venture through the castle.
A Rose in the Twilight is not a game suitable for children. The death scenes are graphic, and will likely even unnerve the most steadfast gamer. Despite this, I would recommend this game to anyone that enjoys dark fantasy puzzle adventures. A Rose in the Twilight is not an easy adventure to complete, but for those that enjoy the genre, you won’t be disappointed.
A Steam Review Key for A Rose in the Twilight was provided by NIS America for the Purpose of this Review