Rule of Rose

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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A bright red crayon just for you.


Rule of Rose is an adventure/Survival Horror game set in an orphanage/airship in post-war England... or is it? It should be noted before going any further that the entire game is difficult to summarize for all sorts of reasons: the elaborate use of Fairy Tale Motifs, the narration, the setting (and the setting... and the setting), the surrealist horror aesthetic, and the purposely uneven story-telling. All this is used to weave a broken fairytale about thoughtless cruelty, wrecked love and childlike longing for an idealized adult reality, culminating into an unusually thoughtful and heartbreaking story of self-actualization and growing up.

Yes, it's still a Video Game. And a Mind Screw. And a pretty good one at that.

The plot revolves around a nineteen-year-old unlucky girl named Jennifer, who becomes trapped in a world run by young girls who have established a rigid and cruel class hierarchy called the Red Crayon Aristocrats. Her only solace is Brown, her partner and best friend. During each chapter, Jennifer has to honor a demand from the Red Crayon Aristocrats on pain of death, and in the process, she pieces together clues and recalls forgotten memories about her role in the Red Crayons' world. Each chapter of the game is introduced with a storybook that loosely describes what the chapter is about and which of the characters it focuses on.

Gameplay consists mostly of finding items with Brown's help, giving him an inventory item to sniff, then letting him guide Jennifer through the environment to whatever it is he's found. All plot-important items and most health restoring items (instead of potions, various cookies and chocolates are used) must be found in this way. Other items such as marbles and ribbons have no immediate use, but may be traded with the Aristocrats. Combat tends to occur as the events in a chapter come to a climax: enemies will often appear seemingly from nowhere, allowing Jennifer to use a variety of improvised weapons, such as a kitchen knife, an icepick or a hatchet.

Oddly enough, not the rule that requires all Shojo anime to have a plethora of roses about.

Tropes used in Rule of Rose include:
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Everyone's so mean to Jennifer, even the adults.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: If you unlock the four-leaf clover door, you get to dress Jennifer up in a variety of outfits, such as a French maid or an octopus. Brown also gets a costume change for some of them.
    • Each costume also comes with a built-in one-hit super-weapon. See also New Game+ below.
  • Animal Motifs: Many chapters have one, and they reflect on the enemies: there are rabbit imps, bird imps, goat imps, rat imps and pig imps.
    • Different characters also have animal associations: Diana is a rat, Meg is a goat, Eleanor is a bird, Amanda is a pig, etc.
  • Arc Words: Gathered slowly through three chapters: Everlasting/True Love/I am yours.
  • Ax Crazy: Stray Dog aka Gregory M. Wilson and Wendy.
  • The Baroness: Meg.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Aristocrats, for maximal squeakiness.
  • Blog: While many fandoms have an online place where they discuss the work in question, Rule of Rose Mysteries takes it to a completely different level, deconstructing the game, analyzing the characters, and piecing together the story.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Meg, Eleanor and Diana, the three highest-ranking Red Crayon Aristocrats, respectively.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to Jennifer twice.
  • Break the Cutie: Everyone, but the game focuses on Jennifer's suffering.
  • Broken Bird: Clara and Diana.
  • Brown Bag Mask: The Aristocrats are seen wearing these early in the game, and later on, some imps are seen wearing them as well.
  • Canine Companion: Brown.
  • Cassandra Truth: That whole "strange man abducting children thing" is just a figment of your imagination, Martha; nothing to be worried about in the least.
  • The Chessmaster: Wendy.
  • Controllable Helplessness: Both times Jennifer is tied up, you can make her struggle. The second time, you have to make her call for Brown's help.
  • Creepy Child: Joshua and the majority of the children at some point.
  • Crying Little Kid: Olivia, whose title is 'The Tearful Princess'.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The game has an episodic structure in the style of a TV series, where each of the episodes puts one of the Red Crayon Aristocrats into the highlight.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Gregory's house has a clunky old refrigerator in 1929. The earliest self-contained home refrigerator came into market in 1923 and was a common sight only in wealthier houses.
  • Dog Walks You: The majority of the game is spent following Brown to one place or another.
  • Elaborate University High: Well, in this case, Elaborate Orphanage: inside an airship the size of the Hindenburg. Oh, as it turns out, this is ultimately subverted, as the airship orphanage is a mixture of the memories of the most traumatic portions of Jennifer's life.
    • It's still rather amazing. Compared to the number of the orphans and the minimal staff, the manor in which the orphanage is actually set is still huge and extremely fancy... apart from the parts that the kids have doodled over or trashed.
      • However, it looks realistically as if people live in it (as opposed to the spotlessness of the common Elaborate University High), with most of the rooms being used as storage.
  • Emotionless Girl: Eleanor.
  • Ephebophile: Mr. Hoffman. And most certainly not depicted favorably.
  • Epiphanic Prison: The airship.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: The game seems to be concerted attempt to outdo Revolutionary Girl Utena in subverting this trope. It succeeds because of its intricate way of working and reworking Fairy Tale Motifs.
  • Everything Talks: Inanimate objects, such as scissors, speak to the protagonist every now and then.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: The game lives and breathes these, and goes out of its way to break them at every turn.
  • Fake Difficulty: As is common with horror games, combat is rather difficult as a way of making the player feel helpless, and making the player-character appear out of their depth. It's even subtly lampshaded: Jennifer covers her eyes during some attacks, explaining why she often has trouble hitting her opponents.
  • Fat Bastard: Amanda.
  • Fork Fencing: Your first weapon is a dessert fork.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: The point of each chapter is to bring the Red Crayon Aristocrats some kind of trinket, often something confusing or impossible.
  • Harmful to Minors: It is strongly implied that Hoffman raped Clara and touched Diana inappropriately. However, Jennifer is an unreliable narrator, and many Alternative Character Interpretations and arguments have sprung up because of them. The main difficulty in interpreting is Jennifer's ability to recognize the signs of abuse: what Jennifer sees during the game does pretty strongly imply something was going on, but is it something that Jennifer suspects in retrospect and 'remembers', or is she remembering it clearly but not seeing it as unusual?
  • Hide Your Children: After the Final Boss fight, when Jennifer walks outside of the orphanage, instead of seeing the bodies of all the children, she only sees their clothes.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: References in Gregory's journal suggest that he killed and ate children.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: While all of the weapons associated with the ridiculous costumes are powerful, the weapon that fits this trope best is the rusty sword. In order to receive it, five fancy, easily missable dessert knives must be gathered from the various chapters, and traded for a key to a secret door that the player has most likely overlooked or forgotten about by the time they receive the means to unlock it.
    • And then it's possible to go Infinity+2 by waiting until New Game+ and trading the Rusty Sword for the Knight Rapier. Enjoy killing just about everything in one hit because unlike all other weapons, it also won't carry over into the next New Game+.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: "And they all lived happily ever after."
  • It's Probably Nothing: The aptly named Constable Dolittle chooses to ignores Martha's worries about the strange occurrences at the orphanage.
  • Kick the Dog: Everyone except Jennifer hates Brown.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Every child in the game. Even Wendy. Especially Wendy.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Wendy.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Meg to Diana. It wasn't well received.
  • Madness Mantra: The imps' incomprehensible babble is actually this spoken backwards: A bright red crayon just for you. Lots and lots and LOTS for you!
  • Meaningful Name: Literally, every name has some sort of symbolic origin or meaning behind it.
  • Meganekko: Meg. Coincidence?
  • Mood Dissonance: The game's fairytale narrative, extremely romantic, impressionistic early 20th-centry soundtrack and pronouncedly glamorous setting are used strikingly to highlight the pettiness and cruelty around which the story revolves.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Poor, poor Brown. Wendy certainly does not like the idea of sharing Jennifer.
  • Ontological Mystery
  • Princess Curls: Amanda.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Wendy.
  • The Quiet One: Clara.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Young Jennifer and Wendy, at least at first. Meg wants one, but Diana finds her unpleasantly clingy.
  • Shown Their Work: The developers spent quite some time researching the fears of both adults and children, and what do they fear the most about the other.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified: what social services there were in depression-era England were very busy and did not have time to look in on every single rural orphanage.
  • There Are No Adults: Even at the start the orphanage was heavily understaffed, but by the end, the orphans were left to their own devices for an indeterminate out of time after Hoffman, Martha and Clara disappeared without trace.
  • Those Two Guys: Xavier and Nicholas.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Jennifer. The entire game is her attempt to revisit her childhood and retrieve her memories of the traumatic events that occurred there.
  • Two-Teacher School: Just one teacher, plus a cleaning lady and a sixteen-year-old girl who acts as a makeshift nurse and all around helper.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mr. Hoffman, though he was in charge from the start. He just developed in a twisted direction. There's a mention at the final chapter of how Hoffman used to be a kind and respectable teacher.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Unreliable because Jennifer has amnesia, and the events as depicted in the story are a conglomeration of half-recalled events and traumatic incidents.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's left unknown what exactly happened to Clara by the end of the game. Also Jennifer, for that matter.
  • World of Symbolism: Possibly mixed in with All Just a Dream.
  • X Meets Y: Silent Hill meets Revolutionary Girl Utena.
  • Yandere: Wendy.