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Video Game / Rule of Rose

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"A bright red crayon just for you."

Rule of Rose is a 2006 adventure/survival horror game developed by Japanese studio Punchline (whose only other game was Chulip) and published by Sony Computer Entertainmentnote  for the PS2. It is 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 Fairytale Motifs, the narration, the setting (and the setting... and the setting), the surrealist horror aesthetic, and the purposely uneven story-telling. All of 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 children 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 treats and chocolate 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 ice pick, or a hatchet.


Oddly enough, not the rule that requires all shoujo anime to have a plethora of roses about.

Warning, spoilers below. This game is best experienced without prior knowledge of its plotline.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Everyone's so mean to Jennifer, even the adults.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Some fans have taken to interpreting Eleanor's extreme introversion and stoicism, combined with her overwhelming obsession with birds and odd rationale thereof (wanting to "sprout wings [like a bird] and fly away") as indicative of an autism spectrum disorder. This is also said of Thomas' obsession with trains, and of his making his toy train's route an eternal loop without a final destination, for - according to Jennifer - reaching the end of the line "would've broken his heart." Some of the other girls' behaviors certainly seem to point at various mental illnesses: Diana may be a narcissist (or possibly a borderliner); Clara has very obvious PTSD; and Wendy is a textbook sociopath.
  • 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+.
  • Animal Motifs: Many chapters have one, and they reflect on the enemies; there are rabbit imps, bird imps, goat imps, rat imps, fish imps and pig imps.
    • Different characters also have animal associations: Diana is a 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.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Red Crayon Aristocrats are the game's primary antagonists. Diana, Meg, and Eleanor are titled respectively as the Duchess, Baroness, and Countess.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: This game's Crowning Moment of Awesome comes in the form of a young Jennifer slapping Wendy to the ground.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: One interpretation of why the aristocrats make Jennifer the new princess after she slaps down Wendy.
  • Blog: While many fandoms have an online place where they discuss the work in question, Rule of Rose Mysteries takes it to a completely different level, deconstructing the game, analyzing the characters, and piecing together the story. The blog itself is gone, but its YouTube channel remains.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Meg, Eleanor and Diana, the three highest-ranking Red Crayon Aristocrats, respectively.
  • Blue Blood: Invoked - the Red Crayon Aristocrats use titles to reflect their status, which correspond directly to the female rankings in the actual British peerage. Oddly, the girls decline to use Marchioness, a senior rank which sits between Duchess and Countess, and Viscountess, which ranks below Countess. In descending order:
    • Wendy - Princess
    • Diana - Duchess
    • (Not used) - Marchioness
    • Eleanor - Countess
    • (Not used) - Viscountess
    • Meg - Baroness
    • Amanda - Has no title, and represents the "poor" or working-classes.
  • Bookends: The first location you find in the game is a shed with a padlock, accompanied by the sound of a dog whining. The game ends with Jennifer locking Brown in the shed as he whines for her, the narration clarifying that she is doing so to keep him safe.
  • Boss Rush: "The Funeral" chapter pits Jennifer against every animal-themed mini-boss the player has encountered throughout the game and forces confrontation by blocking their progress until they defeat not one, but TWO of each.
  • Break the Cutie: The game focuses on Jennifer's suffering, but Amanda, Eleanor, Clara, Meg, Wendy and Gregory all have breakdowns at some point or another.
  • Brown Bag Mask: The Aristocrats are seen wearing these early in the game, and later on some imps are seen wearing them as well.
  • But Thou Must!: Early on, Jennifer is given a series of mildly threatening yes-or-no questions while tied to a pole. No matter what you answer, the outcome is unchanged, and the trope is lampshaded when the interrogator tells Jennifer that her opinion and choices don't matter - they're the one making the rules around here. This arguably sets up the recurring theme of helplessness surrounding Jennifer.
  • 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.
  • Chain of Deals: The game is made of this, since the majority of the gameplay requires you to trace your way through a series of Plot Coupons until you retrieve whatever tribute the Red Crayon Aristocrat Club is demanding that month. Same goes for tracking all kinds of health and other items, which in turn leads to more health items.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A sneaky example thereof. Gregory is seen aiming a revolver at his head in one chapter, contemplating suicide. In a later chapter, you're given a revolver called "Gregory's Gun" and promptly face Gregory in a boss fight. The normal thing to do would be blast him with it, but by giving him back his gun rather than fighting him, he will kill himself instead.
  • 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.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The game has an episodic structure in the style of a TV series, where most of the episodes puts one of the Red Crayon Aristocrats into the spotlight.
  • Dead All Along: Everyone except Jennifer is just a memory.
  • Degraded Boss: Every new enemy type Jennifer encounters is presented as a one-on-one boss fight, but soon after you're fighting the new type by the truckload.
  • Dog Walks You: The majority of the game is spent following Brown to one place or another.
  • Downer Ending: Whatever ending you get, interpretations are bleak at best.
  • Driven to Suicide: One of the possible outcomes for Stray Dog. Provided you hand him back his gun during the Final Boss fight.
  • Elaborate University High: Well, in this case, Elaborate Orphanage - inside an airship the size of the Hindenburg. 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.
  • English Rose: Jennifer presents the intriguing concept of a classic English Rose forced into a Resident Evil-style survival horror environment. Jennifer is a timid, fair, soft-spoken young English woman who seems weak and can be easily pushed about by others, although this is understandable considering the situation she is forced into. However, she is actually very determined and loyal, being able to endure the bullying and punishments. In this regard, she can be viewed as a strong character.
  • Ephebophile: Mr. Hoffman. And most certainly not depicted favorably, though there is a measure of sympathy afforded if the player reads his diary in the Playable Epilogue.
  • Everything Talks: Inanimate objects, such as scissors, locked doors, save points, and inventory bins speak to the protagonist every now and then.
  • Faint in Shock: Jennifer keeps fainting at the slightest provocation during the early cutscenes; they actually tend to mark the borders between chapters. But when she finds her inner courage in the last chapter, she can watch far more traumatizing sights than all the previous ones put together and keep her consciousness.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • As is common with horror games, combat is rather difficult as a way of making the player feel helpless, and making the protagonist appear out of their depth. It's even subtly lampshaded: Jennifer covers her eyes during some attacks, explaining why she often has trouble hitting her opponents.
    • As is ALSO common with horror games, the player can subvert this by finding a way to be cheap with their attacks. In this case, going around the opponent and spamming the first hit of a weapon's combo by releasing the 'combat-stance' button between hits will typically lock the enemy into hitstun, damaging them with no real chance of retaliation.
  • Fetch Quest: What gameplay is all about, give or take some awkward combat. See Chain of Deals above.
  • Flower Motifs: Three guesses which flower it is. Surprisingly, it's used quite sparingly, so when a massive bouquet of red roses appear for the game's big twist in the penultimate chapter, it's quite a shock.
  • Foreshadowing: Whenever the game is not symbolic, it is usually foreshadowing something. To simply name a few from the very beginning:
    • The shed with the open padlock and the dog whining inside.
    • The chalk drawings of "Stray Dog."
    • The children with the bags on their heads hitting something in a sack.
    • The boarding pass for a flying fish.
    • The small items underneath the balcony, such as the fish.
    • "The unlucky girl felt the chilling gaze of many eyes upon her... Yet, she was all alone."
    • The doll that is tied to the pillar.
    • The chair that the boy is sitting on when meeting him in the club room.
  • 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. It's subverted a few times, as merely finding the item in question will end the chapter, without it ever entering the player's inventory at all.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Brown can trace any item, anywhere, anytime... unless the target item is on a different level, you haven't triggered the right cutscene, or you're too many rooms away from the item you're looking for.
    • Then there's incredibly non-intuitive way to earn the best ending: you have to give your gun to the final boss.
  • Harmful to Minors: It is strongly implied that Hoffman raped Clara and touched Diana inappropriately.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: After Jennifer calls out Wendy for her awful behavior and slaps her down, the little tyrant runs away and the remaining aristocrats decide to make Jennifer the new Princess. It's unclear as to whether they were truly shamed by Jennifer's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, were simply left leaderless with Wendy abandoning them and turned to the now proven Jennifer for guidance, or deposed Wendy themselves in the interim between the attic scene and Jennifer's "coronation."
  • Heal Thyself: With biscuits, lollipops, candy, scones, shortbread, minced pie and two flavors of chocolate. Jennifer can heal Brown with chicken, bacon and bones as well.
  • 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.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: If you missed the five knives, in the same chapter are two Coins that will give you the Stick of Justice, which has almost as much power as the sword, but is slower and with less range.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • While all of the weapons associated with the ridiculous unlockable costumes are pretty powerful, the weapon that outshines them in both damage and difficulty to obtain is the Rusty Sword. In order to receive it, five fancy, easily missable dessert knives must be gathered from the various chapters throughout the game, and traded for a key to a secret door that the player has most likely forgotten about by the time they receive the means to unlock it.
    • And then it's possible to go Infinity+2 by waiting until New Game+ and trading the Rusty Sword for the Knight Rapier. Enjoy killing just about everything in one hit, because unlike all other weapons, it also won't carry over into the next New Game+.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Beautifully averted. You can drop anything, anytime, anywhere, and it'll wind up in Jennifer's storage bin, of which there are several and all of which are magically connected ala Resident Evil. Essentially, you can discard items without actually losing them.
  • Irony: Jennifer is such an unlucky girl, except when she seems to be just lucky enough to be the sole survivor of both a catastrophic airship crash and a tragic orphanage massacre, emotional damage notwithstanding.
  • Kick the Dog: Everyone except Jennifer hates Brown.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Jennifer has a stomp attack that's usable on downed enemies, but it's slow and has a tiny hitbox, and enemies are invincible during their lengthy standing-up animation, making it borderline useless.
  • Life Meter: A squiggly red chalkboard line for Jennifer in the inventory screen, but no meter for Brown for some reason. They both have stick-figure representations of themselves next to the red line, which become more tired-looking as they take damage.
  • Love Letter:
    • Meg to Diana. It wasn't well received.
    • One of Wendy's letters to 'Joshua' (actually Jennifer) was a declaration of their betrothal, and was received very well. And then things went wrong...
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Wendy is a textbook Psycho Lesbian for Jennifer. Gregory is also an interesting, and platonic, case, as the death of his son traumatized him pretty well, and then Wendy manipulated his state of mind so that he would kill people on her say-so.
  • 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 Background Event: When Jennifer wakes up in "The Funeral"'s opening cutscene, the floor around her is clearly empty save for a blanket. When the cutscene ends, Brown has inexplicably appeared on the blanket. This is a big hint as to his true nature.
  • Meaningful Name: Literally, every name has some sort of symbolic origin or meaning behind it.
  • Mercy Invincibility: This applies to both Jennifer and her enemies, but the enemies far, far more so, to the point where theirs is a constant issue, but Jennifer's is small enough to never notice.
  • Mind Screw: The plot analysis took a full five pages. Highlights of the story: Jennifer constantly passing out and waking up, the "Gingerbread House" section which is a flashback, events that have already occurred occurring again, Gregory randomly appearing and walking off, Hoffman dying and coming back to life, enemies that no character acknowledges, and storybooks that relate to real-world events with uncanny accuracy. The ending makes it clear that the events didn't happen quite as the player saw them, but leaves it ambiguous as to whether it was All Just a Dream, a Dying Dream, a form of the afterlife or possibly purgatory, or simply Jennifer reliving her memories in a symbolic fashion.
  • Mind Screwdriver: "Once Upon a Time..." makes the ending clearer. Jennifer has amnesia, yeah? As her memories began to resurface, they formed another world (possibly real, possibly imaginary), in which Jennifer lived out the events of her childhood at the orphanage. Eventually, she realizes that they are her own, and gets the rest of her memories back (gaps in the plot are a big part of Mind Screw), deciding to lock them away forever and move on. Yet her napping on that park bench in the FMV intro points more toward All Just a Dream / a symbolic trip down memory lane.
  • Primal Stance: Stray Dog/Gregory walks on all fours like a dog, appropriately enough.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Jennifer doesn't have much to say to the kids that are constantly bullying her. At first.
    • Eleanor, by virtue of her emotionless demeanor. Even during Aristocrat Club meetings, she only speaks when they start chanting, despite being the third highest in ranking (after the Princess and Diana).
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Jennifer puts up with a lot at the hands of the Aristocrats... but Wendy having them kill Brown was the final straw.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Near the end of the game, Jennifer finally makes a stand and tells each and every one of the Aristocrats what she thinks of them and their cruel games. It's so effective that they make her head of the Aristocrat Club shortly afterward.
  • Sequence Breaking: You can miss a lot of cutscenes by sticking to the main Chain of Deals and not doing some thorough exploring.
  • Shop Fodder: Marbles, ribbons, socks and clothespins have no other use than to get traded in at the Red Crayon Aristocrat Club for health items, though it's always advisable to keep at least one of each for further tracking.
  • Shown Their Work: The developers spent quite some time researching the fears of both adults and children, and what they fear the most about the other.
  • Situational Sexuality: Implied for at least some of the main characters - a victim of molestation; and her same-sex adolescent peers, with whom (or on whom) she seeks to normalize the abuse.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Implied to be the case with Diana. As the most beautiful of the girls in the orphanage, she appears to have been the one most often targeted for molestation by Mr. Hoffman, with the obvious exception of the far older and more physically developed Clara. Disturbingly, Diana seems to have coped with this by embracing and exaggerating her literally budding sexuality (a symptom not uncommon in many girls with certain, trauma-related mental disorders). Her seductive behavior, combined with her unique appearance (being just mature enough to arouse but clearly not enough for anyone's comfort) makes her the creepiest of the Aristocrats for many people.
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath: Wendy. She's a selfish, manipulating murderer, with an evil plan that hinges on Jennifer acting in a specific way that implies she does not understand basic human emotions.
  • Spiritual Successor: Is occasionally compared to Lord of the Flies with its ever-present theme of sociopathic kids trying to murder each other.
  • Spoiler Opening: The intro FMV is particularly spoiler-heavy: You can clearly tell Jennifer's the young girl Wendy is romping with in the rose garden, and link them romantically by associating them with Diana and Meg, who are shown afterwards having a private moment involving a rose. Pay attention to the lyrics as well. There's also a shot where Diana, Eleanor and Meg are seen hitting something on the ground, shown from the back and from a distance. This may foreshadow what happens to Brown, given the object seems to be the bag he was in at the end of "The Funeral."
  • Spoof Aesop: The game's fairytale narrative is rife with these, and each chapter's storybook is an increasingly appalling version of this, all to drive home what monsters human beings are. Subverted in the end, as the final, picture-only storybook closes the story on a bittersweet, but uplifting note.
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle: You think the scrap of paper with the three numbers on it is related to the chest with the three-number padlock? Is the fact that both the paper and the chest are in the same room, literally next to each other, of any help?
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: The game doesn't usually throw healing items at you, so when there's a trail of them leading to a new area... expect a nasty surprise.
  • Sweet Tooth: Jennifer heals herself by munching on sweets.
  • 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 a trace.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: "Those who take orders and those who give them."
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Jennifer justifiably has this reaction after Wendy has the Aristocrat Club kill Brown.
    Jennifer: I'll never forgive you. Not ever!
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The source of all the "supernatural" elements. Jennifer is actually re-visiting the Rose Garden Orphanage, literally walking through her disjointed childhood memories in an attempt to overcome her Trauma-Induced Amnesia of her year there a decade earlier.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mr. Hoffman, though he was in charge from the start. He just developed in a twisted direction. There's a mention in the epilogue 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. Example: in the "Once Upon a Time..." chapter, it's revealed that the goats and Eleanor's bird were actually stuffed toys.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In order to get the Good ending, it is necessary to hand your gun to the homicidal maniac attacking you, during his brief moments of clarity.
  • We All Live in America: The game takes place in England, but as the game was made by Japanese developers, some Japanese mannerisms appear in the game. For example, characters use the Japanese gesture for "come here" (palm faced down instead of up) and characters tend to greet each other by bowing.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's left unknown what exactly happened to Clara by the end of the game. Also Jennifer, for that matter.
  • World of Symbolism: Oh God yes. Animal Motifs, Fairytale Motifs, and Flower Motifs abound. As do Magical Realism, and things that just plain don't make sense.
  • Yandere: Wendy. Her love for and devotion to Jennifer are whole-hearted and absolute... and it enrages her that Jennifer won't return her love to the same all-encompassing degree.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: Jennifer wakes up in an unfamiliar room tied to a post.


Video Example(s):


The Red Crayon Aristocrats

The Aristocrat Club controls the orphanage and its tier system tot he point where they hold more power than the adults who run it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil

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