Rule of Rose - hands-on

Everyone knows the old adage that kids can be cruel, but as most people grow up, they tend to forget what that really means. What about when things got really cruel? Do you remember, for example, what it was like to be at the mercy of some kid who'd smash your pet turtle just because it seemed funny?

If you don't, Rule of Rose will remind you.

When it begins, Rule of Rose feels like a standard survival-horror game. As whimpering, fragile Jennifer - an orphaned teenager referred to as "the unlucky girl" - you'll roam from room to room, picking up items and fighting monsters. When the game opens, you'll find yourself abandoned in the hills of 1930s Scotland, with no choice but to follow a mysterious little boy down a dark, lonely road. Soon, you'll investigate a creepy abandoned orphanage, where kids with bags on their heads are beating a bloody sack. These same sadistic little brats will later gang up on you, nail you into a coffin and give you a "funeral."

So, OK, that's kind of creepy, in a demonic-little-girl way. But then it gets surreal; after the slow, lengthy setup, you'll awaken onboard a giant blimp shaped like a whale, where the girls from earlier - who call themselves the Red Crayon Aristocracy - have absolute power. For some reason, they really hate you, and the few adults onboard hate you even more. But at least they're nicer than the murderous, cleanliness-obsessed little goblins that roam the ship and attack you with pushbrooms.

Mikel Reparaz
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.