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Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting

 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.

This game provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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+.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Everyone's so mean to Jennifer, even the adults.
  • 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/fish, 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.
  • Blog: While many fandoms have an online place where they discuss the work in question, Rule of Rose Mysteries (now defunct website) takes it to a completely different level, deconstructing the game, analyzing the characters, and piecing together the story.
  • Banned in China: The UK release was postponed indefinitely after the newspapers picked up on a moral panic story about it in the Italian press of all places, alleging that sexual contact between minors takes place in the game. While those allegations are dubious at best, Schoolgirl Lesbians of the (chaste) Romantic Two-Girl Friendship sort are a major theme, though it was likely ultimately banned because of the adult characters doing harm to minors. (See below.)
  • The Baroness: Meg
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Aristocrats, for maximal squickiness.
  • 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.
  • Cry for the Devil: After playing the epilogue, you'll feel deeply sorry for the two people largely responsible for all the bad things that happened in the story - Wendy and Gregory. It's utterly heartwrenching to watch Wendy silently plead for you to stay when you know it's impossible, and listen to Gregory trying to put together a happy story to read to his dead son.
  • Crying Little Kid: Olivia, whose title is 'The Tearful Princess'.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Gregory's house has a clunky old refrigerator in 1929. The earliest self-contained home refrigerator did came into market in 1923 and was a common sight only 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: The game's sub-par combat system and lack of any semblance of a targeting system makes combat harder than it should be.
    • The lack of targeting can be explained by the fact that Jennifer simply doesn't have the most basic fighting skills - when she fights with a one-handed weapon she's seen covering her eyes while striking! The poor hit-detection and stiff movement controls on the other hand are inexcusable.
  • 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.
    • What makes this worse? You have to use each of the knives with Brown to find the next one, in order, however if you lack the previous knife, you will lose the one for that month and all others after. The kicker? There is a point in the game where you are allowed to choose three months to play in whatever order you like, but if you do not play them in the correct order, you will end up in a month whose knife is found by using a knife from a LATER month. None of these are replayable until you finish the game and hit 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.
  • JustifiedSavePoint: the scarecrow is the vs point in this game when Jennifer is told about not forgetting her promise. Also count as double meaning as the original 'friend' of the scarecrow are Nicholas and Xavier
  • Kids Are Cruel: Every child in the game. Even Wendy. Especially Wendy.
  • Kick the Dog: Everyone except Jennifer hates Brown.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out A boy who playedwith train named ThomasTheTankEngine Thomas
  • 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.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mr. Hoffman
    • Except that 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The whole game is rife with a bizarre, surrealist aesthetic that involves, among other things, roses, butterflies, mermaids, stick figure drawings, imps and dead fish floating in mid-air. Not quite all of it makes sense.
  • World of Symbolism: Possibly mixed in with All Just a Dream.
  • X Meets Y: Silent Hill meets Revolutionary Girl Utena
  • Yandere: Wendy