Rule of Rose

Rule of Rose

Infobox VG
title = Rule of Rose

developer = Punchline
publisher = Sony Computer Entertainment(JP)
Atlus (US)
505 GameStreet (EUR)

distributor = Ingram Entertainment (EU)
designer =
engine =
version =
released = JPN January 19, 2006
NA September 12, 2006
EUR November 3, 2006
UK Canceled
genre = Survival horror
modes = Single player
ratings = CERO: C
PEGI: 16+
platforms = PlayStation 2
media =
requirements =
input =
preceded by =
followed by =

"Rule of Rose" is a survival horror game for the PlayStation 2. Its plot, set in 1930s England, revolves around a nineteen-year-old girl named Jennifer, who becomes trapped in a world ruled by young girls who have established a class hierarchy called the Red Crayon Aristocrats.cite web | url = | title = "Atlus explains Rule of Rose" | author = Spencer | publisher = "Siliconera" | date = 2006-06-16 | accessdate = 2007-04-20 ] The game has been compared to survival horror games Silent Hill and Haunting Ground, due to the psychological horror used throughout and that the main character is accompanied by a canine companion.cite web | url = | title = "Thank Heaven for Little Girls: Why "Rule of Rose" May Be 2006's Most Controversial Game" | author = Sheffield, Brandon | publisher = "Gamasutra" | date = 2006-06-07 | accessdate = 2007-04-21 ]

Gameplay and plot

Players control Jennifer, a young woman who is led to an abandoned mansion by a small boy. After experiencing a traumatic event, she wakes up on a virtually abandoned airship which is ruled by a cruel group of children known as the Red Crayon Aristocrats. Under the threat of death, Jennifer must appease the Aristocrats by finding an offering for them each month. [cite web | url = | title = "Atlus USA Inc. Announces Rule of Rose" | publisher = "Atlus" | accessdate = 2007-03-18] Whilst doing so, she must piece together clues and recall forgotten memories which will ultimately allow her to escape their clutches. Each chapter of the game is introduced with a storybook that loosely describes what said chapter is about, which of the characters it focuses on, etc.

The game flows like many games in the survival horror genre: the player explores the game environment looking for restorative items, furthering the plot by accomplishing tasks and experiencing cut-scenes whilst sporadically encountering enemies and bosses. Early in the game, the player encounters and rescues Jennifer's pet dog, a Labrador Retriever named Brown.cite web | url = | title = "Rule of Rose Review" | author = Aya | publisher = "Just Adventure" | date = 2006-09-12 | accessdate = 2007-04-22 ] Brown accompanies Jennifer throughout the game and will respond to the player's commands.cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose Review | author = Lachel, Cyril | publisher = "Gaming Nexus" | date = 2006-09-12 | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] Brown can be ordered to track items by scent with the 'find' command, be commanded to 'stay' and be called to Jennifer's side with the 'come' command. Brown cannot attack enemies, but will growl which distracts some imps and bosses, allowing Jennifer to retreat or land a few blows without fear of retaliation.cite web | url = | title = Reviewed - Rule of Rose | author = Litten, Matt | publisher = "Ace Gamez" | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] He can be injured to the point of collapse, however, causing him to stop distracting enemies or tracking an item.

Brown's ability to locate items using the 'find' command is an integral part of the game, used in every chapter of "Rule of Rose" to progress further into the game.cite web | url = | title = "Rule of Rose Preview" | author = Speer, Justin | publisher = "GameSpy" | accessdate = 2007-03-14] The same system allows the player to find health restoratives and other items which, whilst not essential to complete the game, can help the player. Players select an item from the inventory for Brown to locate, which is then connected to the 'find' command until changed or removed.cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose for PlayStation 2 Review | author = Kasavin, Greg | publisher = "Gamespot" | date = 2006-09-23 | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] Every item selected this way can be used to find at least one type of item. When tracking items this way, Brown will lead the player through the game environments, scratching at doors in his way for the player to open.

Most health restoring foods and all tradeable items are hidden and must be uncovered by Brown, though the player can choose to avoid searching for these items in order to progress more quickly. Restorative items are presented by snack foods, candy and chocolate. The different types heal varying amounts of health. Bones and other items can be used to restore Brown's health if he becomes injured. Other items such as marbles and ribbons have no immediate use, but may be traded with the Aristocrats in order to obtain food, rare items and weapons.

Combat is almost exclusively melee, with a variety of improvised weapons available, such as kitchen knives and pipes. Jennifer is a timid character, her melee attacks are neither powerful nor long-ranged. Evasion of enemies is often used instead of standing and fighting. With the exception of a handful of bosses, all enemies in the game are imps - skinny, almost doll-like creatures the size of small children. Their skin is a sickly grey colour, the black openings of their mouths and eyes give them a ghost-like appearance. Different animal-headed imps appear throughout the game, alongside regular imps.cite web | url = | title = "PS2 Reviews - Rule of Rose" | author = Reparaz, Mikel | publisher = "Games Radar" | accessdate = 2007-04-23 ]


Main Characters

*Jennifer: The poor, unlucky girl whose parents died aboard an airship. She was taken in by Gregory Wilson, whose son died. In the game, she is (or appears to be) 19, but when she speaks against The Red Crayon Aristocrats at the end of November, she looks about the same age as the other girls.

*Brown: A dog that Jennifer finds tied up on the airship. Jennifer places a collar on him with the name "Brown" scrawled upon it. After she frees him, the dog becomes her constant companion, helping her find items and ward off the monsters she encounters.

*Wendy: The Lonely Princess, a frail and sickly girl that Jennifer meets on the airship, and is the only one who is nice to her. It is later revealed that she is the main antagonist of the game.

*Diana: The Strong-Willed Princess, ranked Duchess (the highest social placement in the Aristocracy under the Princess of the Red Rose). She is very devious and cruel, even towards the other members of the Aristocracy. Often adopts a nonchalant attitude, not caring about how cruel she appears to others.

*Eleanor: The Cold Princess, "Countess". She holds the second spot in the Aristocrat order. Not much is known about her, because she is distant and cold. She always carries an empty bird cage with her.

*Meg: the Wise-Looking Princess, ranked "Baroness". She holds the third spot in the pecking order. Intelligent, but inflexible, she considers herself faultless and carries her notebook (containing various rules) with her everywhere. Meg is the inventor of the devices used to punish members of the group, like the "Torture Chair" and the "Onion Bag". She seems to have a crush on Diana.

*Amanda: The Small-Hearted Princess, ranked the lowest on the social ranks prior to Jennifer's arrival. Initially thankful to Jennifer for lessening the ill treatment she receives, Amanda expressed remorse for following the Aristocrat Club's orders at the end of April. However, as time goes on and Jennifer succeeds Amanda's ranking, Amanda begins to harbor hatred for Jennifer.

Other Children

*Olivia: The Tearful Princess. The smallest and youngest out of all the children and, as her title suggests, is often found crying.
*Susan: The Impetuous Princess. Forceful and a bit rude. Often seen with and talking to Meg and is assigned to gather notes on rumors scribbled on the walls.
*Nicholas: The Sloppy Prince. He and Xavier often play with make-shift swords and is determined to improve his swordsmanship.
*Xavier: The Gluttonous Prince. He and Nicholas often play with make-shift swords and, as his title says, he enjoys eating.
*Thomas: The Mischievous Prince. He has an obsession with trains and draws tracks on the floors.


Most of the adults (with the exception of Martha) serve as the bosses in the game, often appearing in more monstrous/frightening forms.

*Mr. Hoffman: The Headmaster of the Rose Garden Orphanage. He took a liking to the children, especially Clara. With Jennifer's arrival, he finally found a child whom he utterly abhorred and eventually abandoned the orphanage.

*Clara: A quiet, sixteen-year-old girl known as "The Frightened Princess" who works at the orphanage. Often seen with Mr. Hoffman.

*Martha Carol: Dubbed by the Aristocrat Club as "The Queen of Cleaning,", Martha serves as the housekeeper and cook at the orphanage. She had written letters to the police, pleading that something be done about Gregory Wilson's behavior with little success.

*Gregory M. Wilson: A man who farmed peas and carrots for a living, as indicated in his journal. Gregory had a son, Joshua, who died for an unknown reason. Joshua's death greatly disturbed Gregory, making him emotionally unstable and consequently deranged. When he rescued Jennifer from the crashed airship, he treated her like his deceased son, even going as far as to call her by his name. Gregory is in fact Stray Dog, whom Wendy says will come and eat any disobedient children.


A major theme in the game is the difference between a child's and an adult's way of thinking and how children might treat adults if they were given power over them. Players are helpless to prevent their adult player-character being bullied by the children.cite web | url = | title = "E3 2006: Rule of Rose Hands-On" | author = Brudvig, Erik | publisher = "IGN" | date = 2006-05-11 | accessdate = 2006-08-24 ]

The game's graphics are heavily stylised, incorporating a series of visual filters similar to those used in the Silent Hill series.

Afficionados of the game have noticed that Spanish film 'The Orphanage' (2007) directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, has strong visual and plot elements to the earlier Rule of Rose. The protagonist in the film is a woman who revisits her childhood experiences in an old orphanage which resembles the establishment in the game. The movie also features ghostly children, the wearing of strange masks with eye-holes cut out, and treasure hunts where a found object is a clue which leads to the next object, until the treasure is found to advance the plot of the film/game. These similarities are generally thought by fans to be more than coincidental. [ [ Comparing Endings El Orfanato The Orphanage and Rule of Rose] ]


The musical score was composed by Yutaka Minobe, who also composed the music of Skies of Arcadia and some tracks from the Panzer Dragoon Orta soundtrack. The entire score was created without electronic instruments - most of the music was produced by musicians using string instruments. According to the game's developers, the music was intended to bring a human element to the atmosphere in the game. A 6-track promotional soundtrack CD was produced by Atlus, which was issued to customers from certain retailers when "Rule of Rose" was pre-ordered. [cite web | url = | title = Atlus Announces "Rule of Rose" Soundtrack | author = Dwyer, Travis | publisher = Gaming Age | date = 2006-07-14 | accessdate = 2007-05-10 ]


At E3 2006 Atlus announced that they would be releasing "Rule of Rose" in the United Statescite web|last=Sinclair|first=Brendan|date=2006-05-11|url= |title="E3 06: Rule of Rose headed to USA" |publisher="GameSpot" |accessdate=2006-06-09 ] , following Sony's decision to pass on a US release. [cite web | url = | title = "Citing its underage eroticism, Sony America pulls plug on Japanese video game" | author = Anderson, Nate | publisher = "Ars Technica" | date = 2006-06-08 | accessdate = 2006-08-08 ] This was on the grounds of the game's erotic undertones involving a cast of female minors. The developers have disagreed with this, saying that the sexual themes are not the main focus and are only a small part of the game.

Release of this game raised controversies in Poland, where the conservative Ministry of Education raised questions concerning its appropriateness for minors (it's rated 16+) because of the themes of child violence and sexuality. The Ministry informed the official prosecutor's office of possible crime. [cite web | url = | title = "Rządy Róży - kontrowersyjna gra na Play Station 2" | author = Waglowski, Piotr "VaGla" | date = 2006-11-18 | accessdate = 2006-11-19 | language = Polish ]

European Union justice minister Franco Frattini attacked the game as containing "obscene cruelty and brutality". He also called for changes to the PEGI rating system in place across Europe and for government officials to engage in discussions with industry representatives. cite web | url =| author = Jenkins, David | title = "Rule Of Rose's UK Release Cancelled" | publisher = "Gamasutra" | date = 2006-11-24 | accessdate = 2006-11-24] According to news site The Register, Frattini received a letter from Viviane Reding, commissioner for the information society and media, who criticises Frattini's actions: "It is...very unfortunate that my services were not pre-consulted before your letter to the Ministers of Interior was sent out," Reding writes, reminding him of the commission backed self-regulating ratings system called PEGI that has operated across the EU since 2003.

The PEGI system of classification, according to the Reding letter, offers "informed adult choice" without censoring content. "This is in line with the Commission's view that measures taken to protect minors and human dignity must be carefully balanced with the fundamental right to freedom of expression as laid down in the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union," writes Reding to Frattini. [cite web | url =| author = Ballard, Mark | title = "Euro commissioners swap slaps in video game row" | publisher = "The Register" | date = 2006-11-27 | accessdate = 2006-11-20] Moreover, on 7 March 2007, a group of -mostly- Italian MEPs presented a Motion for a European Parliament resolution on a ban on the sale and distribution in Europe of the game and the creation of a "European Observatory on childhood and minors". [cite web | url =| title = Motion for resolution at the EP website | date = 2007-03-08]

The publisher has chosen to cancel the release of the game in the UK following complaints by Frattini and other EU officials, and "largely misleading" [cite web | url = | author = Wales, Matt | title = Rule of Rose Plucked From UK Shelves| publisher = IGN | date = 2006-11-24 | accessdate = 2006-11-27] commentary from the UK press. [cite web | url = | author = Ingham, Tim | title = "505 Games pulls Rule Of Rose release" | publisher = "MCV" | date = 2006-11-24 | accessdate = 2006-11-24] It will however be released in the rest of Europe. Review copies of the title had already shipped to UK journalists when this was announced. The UK body which had granted the title its 16+ PEGI rating (the Video Standards Council) responded to the press and Frattini's comments thus:

In November 2006, 505 Games' Australian and New Zealand distributor Red Ant Enterprises confirmed that the game had been cancelled in both territories. Red Ant stated that the game had not been submitted to the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification for approval, without which the game cannot be sold in Australia. "Rule of Rose" was scheduled for Australasian release in February 2007. [cite web | url =,239029672,339272418,00.htm | author = Ramsay, Randolph | title = "Rule Of Rose canned for Australia" | publisher = "CNN" | date = 2006-11-29 | accessdate = 2007-04-22]

Critical response

Critical response to the title has been lukewarm, with a few very positive and very negative reviews. The game has obtained a Metacritic metascore of 59cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose Games Homepage | publisher = "Metacritic" | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] and a Game Rankings average ratio of 61%. [cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose Reviews | publisher = "Game Rankings" | accessdate = 2007-03-14 ] It is generally agreed that the title has an interesting plot, with The AV Club observing that "aside from a few deep curtsies and an unlockable Gothic Lolita costume, the characters are more sinister than sexualised". [cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose Review | author = Dahlen, Chris | publisher = "The Onion" | date = 2006-09-11 | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] However the gameplay is widely lambasted as clumsy, archaic, [cite web | url = | title = Rule of Rose Review | author = Gallaway, Brad | publisher = "Game Critics" | date = 2006-09-20 | accessdate = 2007-03-12 ] and unrewarding. The press was generally divided upon how much the gameplay detracts from one's ability to enjoy the story itself. Edge magazine found neither plot nor gameplay appealing: "It’s just a murky brew of meaningless, exploitative dysfunction filling an empty game, and it leaves a bitter taste" Acegamez, on the other hand, not only admired the game's plot but also found the gameplay appealing if slow, "a wonderful psychological thriller that will draw you in with its bizarrely compelling narrative, atmospheric presentation and thoughtful story-based gameplay".


External links

* [ Official US Rule of Rose site]
* [ IGN's Rule of Rose page]

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