"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end."
Wine & Roses is a freeware Role-Playing Game made in RPG Maker VX Ace by Craze, made for the 2012 All Hallow's Event contest.The premise of the story is simple. A lord named Luc Francisco has been usurped from his home of Fort Adder and placed under a curse that makes him skeletal. He enlists the aid of three exorcists to clear his manor of the infestation of demons and undead that are now plaguing it. As time goes on, however, the exorcists begin to question Francisco's ethics and wonder whether his curse was warranted.Though there are strategically placed Story Breadcrumbs relating to this, the meat of the game revolves around exploration of Fort Adder and creative Eastern RPG battles with the various enemies within. The game is described as a rough mix of Shadow of the Colossus and Mega Man (Classic) — each enemy is unique and often appears frighteningly powerful, but defeating them grants access to a specialized slew of specific rewards, which can be used to enhance the player's strategy and often contain an Achilles' Heel to another foe. The game is highly nonlinear, to the point of being almost a Metroidvania in RPG form; though there is an intended order in area progression, there is nothing preventing players from exploring every area from the start, and powerful enemies can even be defeated far before they're "supposed" to be, with clever strategizing.The game can be downloaded here.
Anachronism Stew: The majority of the game seems to take place in a Big Fancy Castle, and society seems to be under some kind of feudalistic system, at least in the place Francisco rules over. Argent's use of a Cool Sword and Automatic Crossbow seems to cement the game in this time period...however, Nynavae uses a gun, and the characters seem to instantly recognize Bohea's Abandoned Laboratory for what it is.
Attack Reflector: This is the Usurper's entire schtick. He literally has no offensive abilities — all he does is heal (and occasionally debuff) himself. (It's not a true "reflector", however, as he still takes normal damage himself.)
Boss Battle: A bit of a weird example, since all fights are technically unique boss battles. However, each area has an end-stage opponent (usually in a throne room or something similar) with a unique sprite that is more difficult than normal and who gives greater-than-normal rewards.
Bonus Boss: Every fight except for the opening tutorial battles and the Final Boss is technically optional.
However, The Ordeal, Dante, Stark & Lannis, and the Devourer are possibly closer to the spirit of the trope. They all tend to be relatively close to the beginning of their areas, but are on par or more difficult than the "boss" of the area, generally requiring players to come back later to finish them off. None of them are stronger than the Final Boss, though.
Boss-Only Level: Etalon sector, which contains only the Final Boss. The developer has stated that this was an artifact of the time constraint, however, and plans to expand it to be the size of the other sectors at a future date.
Character Level: Averted. Rewards are granted after each battle, but they are always specific assets or direct stat upgrades rather than levels or experience points.
Chest Monster: Upon encountering one, Francisco is insulted that his usurpers went to the effort of cursing his treasure.
Defeat Equals Friendship: Delilah, as an angel of chaos, whimsically decides to help the exorcist trio when they defeat her.
Dem Bones: Francisco's curse has turned him into this. His entire household was similarly cursed, too, though they have not retained their sanity.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Byrde, both to you and from you. All of its attacks are weak, but hit multiple times. It also inflicts daze, which reduces the exorcists' energy — this only allows you to use their weaker attacks, most of which are weak but hit multiple times.
Disconnected Side Area: In one section of Bohea, you can see an area from another sector. It's an end area of Daedra, however, so you won't physically reach it until you get to Daedra (for all intents and purposes the final dungeon) and explore it fully.
Dual Boss: Stark and Lannis, Francisco's son and his lover.
Easter Egg: After Delilah is defeated, she will take over Francisco's battle commentary duties. This results in some unique text changes in certain battles if you fight them with her in tow.
Final Boss, New Dimension: Somewhat. Etalon, the seat of the Final Boss, certainly has this feel, but it's not explicitly stated to be another dimension, just the most "warped" section of Fort Adder due to its proximity to the Gehenna Gate.
Flunky Boss: Many. Most notable is the Final Boss, who starts alone, but summons more and more flunkies as the battle progresses.
Game Over: Completely averted. Losing a battle will simply send you back to the map screen with a "better luck next time" message and no penalties whatsoever. This is somewhat of a necessity with the open-ended nature of the game.
Greek Chorus: Francisco, who idly comments from the sidelines during battles while the exorcists do all the work. Subverted in the final battle, however, where his commentary has plot relevance, and he is attacked directly by Delilah.
I'm Going to Hell for This: Francisco says this of himself after making a pun. The pun in question? "I'm glad he's found someone he can have a happy bone with." Francisco is talking about his son and his son's lover, who are both skeletons at the time.
Mirror Boss: The Angelis trio. They're three women, one a fighter (Argent), one a Solar spellcaster (Carmanth), one an assassin-type and Lunar spellcaster (Nynavae).
Mystical White Hair: Subverted by Argent. True to her name, she has silvery-white hair, and she is a demon hunter...but her specialty lies in physical weaponry and endurance, not magic like the other two exorcists.
Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Francisco has very long and remarkably silvery hair, though the latter could be a result of his curse.
Order Versus Chaos: Angels devote themselves to this cause; they choose one side or the other to adhere to, and spend the rest of their existence fervently trying to bend human society towards it. With both sides pushing, however, neither ideal can be achieved, so it simply results in a balance.
Power of the Void: Lunar magic could be interpreted as this — it utilizes darkness and cold, which are literal voids of energy in the physical sense. Power of the Void would also be an appropriate contrast with the more energetic, flashy spells of the Solar element.
Puzzle Boss: Almost every boss to one degree or another, but the Devourer is a notable example. Its only attack is so powerful as to be a One-Hit KO, and it absorbs enchantments, so you can't even hide behind defensive buffs. The solution is to feed it an enchantment that has a negative component: Serenity. Its damage-decreasing component makes its attack survivable, turning it into a Marathon Boss instead.
Rush Boss: Rapture, an early-game enemy. It uses extremely powerful attacks, but is relatively weak defensively, so you must overwhelm it before it overwhelms you.
Alternatively, you could just put it to sleep, rendering it harmless while Nynavae rends it to death.
Sanity Meter: It increases damage dealt and decreases damage received. It's drained by spells and enemy attacks. If it hits zero, the character will waste a turn performing a "crazed attack" and recover some sanity.
There are some references to Visions & Voices. The Telgium and Wicodian make guest appearances, and one spell is called "Visions" (it even has the same effect as the spell by the same name in Visions & Voices). Curiously, there is no corresponding "Voices" spell.
The Smart Guy: Carmanth. From what little characterization we get of her, she appears to be the most inquisitive, perceptive, and knowledgeable of the three exorcists, sometimes even functioning as Ms. Exposition in explaining important aspects of the world to the player.
The Stoic: From what we can see from her flashes of characterization, Argent seems to be this. She's very hard-nosed, cerebral, and goal-oriented — she apparently graduated top of her class at the exorcist training academy.
Story Breadcrumbs: Interacting with any of the gift-giving spirits will elicit a monologue from one of the exorcists reflecting or commenting on the situation. With enough of them, you can start to paint a picture about the events of the Back Story and other events in the world. Francisco's battle commentary also contains occasional examples of these.