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Rule of Rose review

Terrified of little girls? Have we got a horror game for you


  • Moody and meticulously beautiful
  • Bizarre but captivating story
  • Mostly excellent voice acting


  • Few scares for horror fans
  • Infuriating load times between rooms
  • Trying to explore while hurt and limping

If there's anything that being kids taught us, it's that other kids can be real bastards. They're petty, they're conniving and they can turn on you in an instant. And when they've got even a little power to lord over you, you're probably in for some pain.

And when monsters are involved? All bets are off, baby.

Set in 1930 and unfolding like a cross between Silent Hill and Lord of the Flies, Rule of Rose is a bizarre, survival-horror psychodrama that tells the fractured story of Jennifer, a shrinking, demure young woman. As the story begins, Jennifer finds herself stranded outside a mysterious orphanage late at night, which turns out to be inhabited by a vicious group of children. The kids, ruled by a gang of prim schoolgirls who call themselves the Red Crayon Aristocrats, press Jennifer into service aboard a gigantic, monster-infested airship and order her to bring them presents on pain of death.

That's how it starts, anyway. But the further you delve into Rule of Rose, the more surreal and incomprehensible it gets. If you like your stories laid out neatly, this isn't for you; the dreamlike narrative (which hints at childhood abuse and homoeroticism) seems to jump around randomly in time, and it may or may not be one big, Freudian flashback. It's hard to tell, because much of the plot and the events behind it are only half-explained by game's end, leaving you to puzzle out what's really going on. But at least it's captivating enough to keep you playing.

More Info

DescriptionThis creepy horror game puts you in the shoes of a teenager trapped in a zeppelin and forced to fetch presents for psychotic children. Yep, it's weird.
US censor ratingMature
Release date12 September 2006 (US), (UK)


After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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