When it comes down to it, saying a game is "good" or "bad" is subjective. However if we were to administer some kind of gameplay proficiency test to RoR, this game would get a D or C-. RoR has all the bad staples of the survival horror genre: horrible camera controls, absolutely horrid combat and battle music that gave me a migraine when I had to listen to it for 40 minutes straight (alright that last one was really subjective).
From my past articles you should know by now that I lean heavily on gameplay as the prime focus on videogames. So with all those negatives about RoR I should really toss this into the trash bin and call it a night, yet I still love this game. The reason why is something that is really out of character for me, the story.
To say that the story of RoR is original is an understatement; I can honestly say that there is not any other game like it in this category. The themes shown in this game are too numerous to mention, everything from peer pressure to even child molestation is present. To give a valid, truthful interpretation of the events in the game is impossible.
The game also has one of the most interesting and refreshing end sequence I've seen in just about any other video game. I would love to tell you what goes on during the ending but it is really something that has to be experience after playing the game. The story is so good that if you search for Rule of Rose blog on Google you'll find a blogger's excellent attempt to explain all the mysteries and imagery found in the game, a task that he deserves some major praise for. With all that said here is why I am sad about RoR.
RoR is truly a diamond in the rough and was quickly panned by most reviewers for its poor game mechanics. As someone who puts the gameplay above all else I find it odd for me that the story and settings dulled the fact that the game was below average. There is an A+ story in this game that is trapped with D or C level game mechanics. Chances are most of you reading this have either A. never played RoR or B. played it and hated it for the reasons mentioned. Having played through the game this past weekend a few things stood out to me about some of the failings in RoR.
When discussing video games you can easily divide games into two groups, those that focused on the gameplay first and those that focus on story first. When a designer creates the story first or focus heavily on it a question comes to mind, how will the gameplay work around that story? Games that deal with unique storylines are some of the hardest to create excellent gameplay for; a great example of this would be Killer 7 which had a very basic game system and a disturbingly odd story.
The same can be said for RoR and I don't envy the gameplay designers who had to try to create gameplay for this tale. When you have a story that is basically "aliens invade, kill them", you have a lot of room to develop game mechanics for it. Ror's story line is not so cut and dry which forced the designers to work around the story to come up with the gameplay. One of the faults of RoR is that while combat is the worst element of it, the game features a lot of forced action in the forms of trap rooms and boss fights. I wonder if the designers were trying to give the player more to do and that is what they came up with.
For those out there reading this, what games have you played and enjoyed even though they should be something that you hated? As I think about it, RoR is a game I would love to make with so many unique themes and storyline yet I don't think it would be possible for someone with my mindset.
I fully admit that when it comes to game design I usually save the storyline for last and put all my focus on the game mechanics. In the end I would rather make something unique and remembered rather then a successful game that is out of everyone's mind within a few months.