The best puzzle games are ones that take a few simple mechanics and manipulate them to create captivating and original challenges. A Rose in the Twilight does just that so let's see what it's all about.
In A Rose in the Twilight, you switch between controlling two different characters. One of them, Rose, is a young fragile girl who falls flat on her face at even the smallest vertical descent. She can be killed by almost everything, including the thorns that have spread across the castle and by the handful of enemies that appear throughout. To make up for her weak stature, she has a pretty special ability: she can absorb blood from an enemy or object then transfuse it to another object, giving it new properties like the ability to move and be picked up.
Rose quickly becomes friends with a giant but endearing stone golem who is pretty much the exact opposite of her. He can pass through the layers of thorns and is rarely fazed by any of the castle's traps. He can also pick up and throw large items, including Rose. He's oversized and not very agile so he can't always fit down every hallway or climb ladders.
Blending this unlikely duo's talents is how you'll solve A Rose in the Twilight's complex puzzles and make progress through the antiquated castle. Puzzles start out simple enough with traditional button-pressing and switch-pulling mechanics but quickly ramp up into challenging and thought-provoking riddles. A late-game puzzle that involves rolling a barrel down a large ramp stands out as one that took me a significant amount of time to solve but it also filled me with satisfaction once I finally figured out the solution.
New abilities are introduced later in the game like growing flowers with a blood-filled watering can and painting in blood but they're usually isolated into their own sections which keeps them from feeling overwhelming. A Rose in the Twilight's difficulty level is very fair with puzzles that will get you thinking but shouldn't completely explode your brain.
A Rose in the Twilight doesn't provide a ton of instruction which is mostly for the best since you're left to solve problems on your own. There were a couple times when I felt like it didn't properly communicate its rules to me, though. For example, I encountered a decrepit red knight enemy that killed Rose the second he touched her. Further along in the adventure when I came across a red thorn-covered bug enemy, I assumed the same would happen. It didn't, though, and the solution to the puzzle was to actually ride the bug across an otherwise impassable gap. It took me a long time to solve because I assumed that touching the bug would kill Rose immediately.
To my surprise, A Rose in the Twilight has a very dark, brooding atmosphere that I enjoyed quite a lot. Rose's main ability to absorb and transmit blood is in itself quite morose. It gets much darker than that and while I don't want to spoil any of the events that unfold, suffice it to say that poor Rose sure goes through a lot as she traverses the castle.
I'd be remiss not to mention A Rose in the Twilight's map system because it's very simple and useful. The developers didn't try to get cute by adding multiple layers and decided to stick with a standard and easy to read 2D layout. After beating one of the six sections of the castle, the map reveals the room locations of missed bloodstains which is the main collectible. You can fast-travel to the start of any completed puzzle room, getting rid of wasteful backtracking and upon beating the campaign, your puzzle completion time for each room is listed on the map. I was surprised how much fun it was replaying puzzles as fast as I possibly could to improve my times.
A Rose in the Twilight's dark and atmospheric tone contrasts well with the budding story of friendship between two unlikely individuals but it's the well-crafted and clever puzzles built on just a few simple mechanics that make it a must-play for any puzzle game fan.
- + Dark, unsettling, and engaging tone
- + Puzzles are built on easy-to-learn mechanics
- + Good amount of replay value, especially for a puzzle game
- - A couple puzzles have very obscure solutions