A Rose in the Twilight Review

By Shawn Collier on June 1, 2017

While NIS is most known for their Disgaea franchise in the west, there’s been a number of smaller indie-like titles in scope that they’ve developed and released over the years. The same team that developed the wordy titled game htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary is back at it again with their latest release: A Rose in the Twilight. Like its predecessor it shares some of the 2D puzzle platformer aspects, but also has its own unique approaches to the formula. So how does it fair?

Similar to Firefly, Rose in the Twilight weaves its narrative through its gameplay and smaller narrative snippets than bigger dialogue spans. You control a girl, Rose, who’s woken up inside a run-down castle, and has a white rose on her back which allows her to mysteriously reanimate herself from the nearby crystalized flowers when she dies. Using this power, she attempts to travel deeper into the castle to piece together what happened to both the castle and herself…

What works well about the game is its graphical style, which utilizes an exceptionally muted and washed-out tone. This works for the many deaths that will occur when Rose dies in a number of different manners, but also for the secondary application of the power of the white rose on her back which allows her to absorb blood from one object and inject it into another. In Rose in the Twilight, only objects that have blood are controlled by the laws of physics, so this lets you play with things in unique ways such as activating a switch and then draining its blood and thus keeping it pressed, or freezing a monster in place as Rose will die if she touches it normally.

Not long into the game, you run into a golem who befriends Rose. That golem becomes incredibly useful in not just becoming a secondary person to interact with objects but also to protect Rose from monsters as it has the ability to fight them off. This later point is key, as there was one particular puzzle where I had to split the two up and all of a sudden Rose became surrounded by monsters and I had to rush the golem to her side — all in all the developers did a good job mixing things up with the player’s expectations of how this duo mechanic should work. There’s also some other mechanics thrown into the mix later in the game as you progress, and they’re used sparingly enough to not overstay their welcome.

That isn’t to say this means the puzzles are all designed perfectly. The developers don’t always signpost properly if a puzzle is designed for the player to backtrack to get more blood from the previous area to attempt the next puzzle, or when the puzzle’s mechanics are obtuse in a way where players will spend too much time overthinking and blow right past the developer’s intended solution to the puzzle. Also, since the plot is told through the bloodstains you find through the game, and some of these are optional depending on your routing, you may find them out of order and get confused on the overall narrative.

Final Thoughts

For most players, A Rose in the Twilight will last you around 10 hours, but the story and gameplay, even with the latter having some minor faults, is worth it for brief time you’ll have alongside it (although there is additional challenges and content to unlock to extend playtime). It excels its spiritual predecessor in almost every aspect and is worth your time if you’re looking for a different experience to play on your Vita.

A Rose in the Twilight was reviewed using a digital code provided by NIS America. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
If you were a fan of The Firefly Diary, this spiritual successor is very similar in nature.
The graphical style really helps set the mood.
The gameplay mechanics are used well, and new mechanics are introduced without feeling overused.
When you're supposed to or not supposed to bring blood to a puzzle isn't always signposted properly.
Some puzzles feel somewhat obtuse, so players might overthink their intended solutions.
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