A brand new title for the Playstation Vita, A Rose in the Twilight is a spiritual successor to htoLNiQ: The Firefly Diary by NIS – who are also publishing this puzzle platformer.
NIS also recently published Yomawari: Night Alone, another title that mixes a dark atmosphere with innocent young girls. A Rose in the Twilight is more like The Firefly Diary with its puzzle platforming gameplay though – but it’s its own adventure and in our opinion it’s the best of the three titles.
At the start of the game, you wake up as a young girl called Rose inside an old castle that has seen better days. The game soon turns cooperative, as you befriend a giant and you start switching roles in order to overcome the game’s many and diverse puzzles – which is of course a dynamic we’ve seen successfully implemented in puzzle (platforming) games many times.
Central to this are the skills that set Rose and her giant friend apart. Your giant is strong and can clear obstacles or lift Rose, and he is also more resistant to environmental dangers. Rose is more much vulnerable, but has the size and agility to get through narrow spaces and also has a unique ability in the thorn that is attached to her back.
With this thorn, you can freeze and unfreeze objects in time and extract or give color/blood from them. This helps you in solving puzzles (moving objects into or from a frozen state) but also aids you in finding out about what happened inside the castle. To achieve this, you use your thorn to tap into the memories of the deceased inhabitants that you come across – and A Rose in the Twilight slowly unfolds as an interesting 7 hour long mystery this way.
In a bit of a macabre twist, Rose has to sometimes sacrifice herself in order to open specific doors. She is revived after meeting a gruesome fate, but it’s a good example of how this is a much darker game than your typical puzzle platformer is. Despite this, there is also a warm side to the game – as your solitude is countered by your cooperation with the giant and the relationship they develop over the course of the adventure.
A Rose in the Twilight is one of the best looking games we’ve seen on the Playstation Vita in a long time. The art style, the animation and the effective use of (a lack of) color work very well – and it’s combined with more than decent puzzle design as well. The closest thing you’ll find on the Vita is Limbo – and it’s been years since we had anything this close to that classic. Some of the puzzles and content might be a little too weird for some, but we loved our time with NIS’ latest.