"Whisper of a Rose" is a role playing game for the PC that has you playing as an young adult named Melrose. Melrose is a very bright girl but not a very well liked girl as she is always getting picked on at college by bratty women who don't know how to grow up, sadly that's the least of her problems. The worst of the abuse that Melrose is getting is from home as she has abusive parents that seem to hate her guts and force her to sleep in the basement. Ironically, Melrose is very free down in the basement as she gets time to work on her project which is a model of a castle. When Melrose has got free time from the house, she likes to go to the museum and one day at the museum she hears about experimental technology called the iDream. The iDream is a device that can take you to the land of your dreams, a land where the imagination knows no bounds. The next day Melrose gets invited to the museum office to hear some information about the iDream. In the small office we see Melrose getting desperate and so she steals the iDream because she is fed up of being in a world where she is treated like dirt. While running from security she manages to get the iDream running and it takes her to another dimension. This dimension is where stuff of fantasy and magic is real and where Melrose can be and will be a powerful warrior. Melrose sadly starts to learn that even the world of her dreams has it's fair share of problems... Not to mention that she is also being hunted by a crazy killer clown (not from outer space). How will she survive? (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this game is alright but it is not without it's problems. My problem with the story is with during the parts when the game takes place in the real world, the writing of the dialogue is terrible as it is very forced and comes off as hokey. All the people that are mean to Rose in the real world all have a very over the top super villain vibe to them and it feels very out of place. Once you are in the dream world then the writing becomes much better and so does the dialogue. The story in the dream world is decent with nice fantasy elements taken from a mixture of fairy tales and psychology books and it does hook you in. The writing and dialogue oddly makes more sense in the dream world than it does in the real world and I find that to be a little weird as you'd thing it would be the other way around.
Each world have their own vibe to it, the real world has a dark and depressing feeling, the dream world is more light hearted and yet serious at the same time and the balance of atmosphere was good despite how bad the dialogue is for the real world. There is still some dark stuff in the dream world and those moments tend to happen when you meet up with the main villains in the game and the devs used those dark vibes appropriately. (Minor spoiler) When the real world and the dream world cross-over, the game changes into a much darker and more sinister vibe to where some really messed up stuff happens and it worked pretty well as it made you feel that something big is about to go down.
The characters in this game are alright and you will enjoy them but my problem is that the characters can be a bit flat during some parts of the game. Early on in the game you can choose a class for your character and I found that to be pretty sweet as it adds variety and gives you more than one strategy to beating monsters with the battle system. The classes you choose are: Warrior, Summoner, and Paladin. Warrior has your character based on being up close and personal by giving you strong physical attack, Summoner makes your character more magic based and give you some special abilities that no other class has, and Paladin is good if you want to take a more defensive approach to battle.
The battle system in this game is very simple and easy to learn. Before you can perform an action in battle, you must wait for your action bar to charge up. Once the bar is charged up you can choose to do a normal attack, a special attack that will use up magic points, defend, or use an item. The spells do come quite in handy and so you will want to keep your MP bar full. Melrose can also summon creatures that will aide you in battle and they do come in handy as well and so I recommend using them.
It doesn't take long to learn the system as this system is used in a bunch of RPGs and most notably found in the Final Fantasy series. The look of the battle system also reminds me of the old Final Fantasy games as the view is from the side. The art-style of the battles reminds me of the original "Final Fantasy (1987)" but with graphics that look from the 16-bit era of Final Fantasy games like "Final Fantasy V (1992)". I'm not saying that this is a bad thing at all as it looked more tribute based than being a rip-off.
There are two types of leveling up in this game, the first one being just a simple experience system to where you gain experience points that will level you up by battling monsters. The other leveling up system has to do with your spells as you can fine tune them. The way you fine tune your spells is by collecting special points called Skill Upgrade Points that can be gained multiple ways including being found in certain areas of each map, defeating bosses, and you can even gain them by being social by talking to the people you run into on your journey. Once you have them you can go to a skill tree section that has all of your spells and you can choose to spend those points on a certain spell. Upgrading spells will help you be able to pull of spells faster, make them stronger, and even decrease the cost of using them.
While we are on the topic of spells, you do not earn spells by gaining levels as you must get another special point called a Skill Unlock Point (we'll just call them SUP for short). Once you have a SUP you can go to the skill tree where you can upgrade your spells and simply unlock new ones from there. My problem with this menu system is that the speed of being about to move around in that menu depends on where your character is standing on the area/map. If you are standing on normal ground you can navigate through this menu normally but if you were to be on something that'll slow your character down, like a hill or a ladder, you will be navigating through that menu at a very slow pace and is very tedious when that happens. This movement thing only occurs on that particular menu and no other one, so just level up when you are on steady ground.
The designs of the areas in this game aren't bad at all as they are interesting. Going off track from the main mission and exploring all the areas in this game is not a bad thing as you will find some good items and even some interesting side-quests. Speaking of side-quests, there's quite a decent amount of them and doing them all will take up some time but they were not bad to play. I did have some weird moments in certain areas as I did manage to walk though walls and ended up exploring areas that I shouldn't typically be able to go to, it is possible to make it back to the area where you are supposed to be and is not a hard thing to, still, it can be a little annoying.
The bosses in this game can get pretty tough and if you have trouble beating them, you can just look for smaller enemies and beat them until you are the right level to be able to defeat the boss with ease. The grinding in this game isn't bad as you don't need to do all that much but just like all games with grinding, it can feel a little tedious but it's nothing that'll make you stop playing the game. Upgrading your equipment also helps (well that goes without saying) and the equipment system in this game is very simple and straightforward. When you are purchasing equipment you will see that it has the stats of the equipment in the info about the equipment and it is very easy to understand and you will not have any trouble.
The only thing that's really difficult about the game are the puzzles and the final boss. The final boss being hard is understandable and appropriate, the puzzles can get very hard and will drive you insane and I hate to admit this, I had to ask the developer for the answer to one particular puzzle and they were kind enough to help (thank you RosePortal Games for the answer to that one puzzle). I did feel like an idiot in the end as that puzzles ended up being much more simpler than what I had imagine and the answers were right in front of me the whole time. Even if the answer to the puzzles are simple, you have to push, pull, and move around items to get certain puzzles completed and they were all still very hard to the point of me wanting to rip out my hair.
The length of this game is quite long as it took me forty hours to beat and has really made me regret planning RPG reviews because they take so long to beat (I was semi-joking). Once you have beaten the game you will unlock a "New Game+" mode and that'll add some new things to the game and also adds replay value. Is this game worth replaying? Sure, but you won't be replaying it as soon as you've beaten the game as you will want to take a rest from the game. Wait six months to a year and you'll feel refreshed and want to play the game on New Game+ mode. Waiting a while might sound like a bad thing but it really isn't as the next time you'll play it will feel like a fresh new experience all over again.
The way you control the characters, menus, and battles in this game can be done in multiple ways as you can play this game exclusively by using the mouse, using the keyboard, or by combining both the mouse and keyboard. Controlling this game with the mouse alone is something I wouldn't recommend as it makes the game a bit annoying when it comes to moving around. Using the keyboard as your sole method of controlling the game isn't too bad but the mouse cursor does get in the way and it does make the experience frustrating. The best method is by using both mouse and keyboard as you can use the keyboard to move around and talk to people while you use the mouse to navigate though menus and that is the most comfortable way to play.
This game is made with the RPG Maker engine and games that use that engine can tend to be lazy looking in the presentation department. What I mean by "lazy" is that the engine comes with a core set of graphics, sound, and music to which the developers can mess with. This game has some effort put into it when it comes to the art and music. A lot of the art in this game is made from scratch and thus it adds some freshness to the game. The graphics used the light and dark moody styles very appropriately as you get some nice bright designs for areas that are supposed to be more friendly looking and you get darker designs for some of the more menacing looking areas. The designs for the boss creatures and even some of the base monsters were quite terrifying and menacing to where I felt a bit uncomfortable fighting them.
The music in this game was also used very appropriately and it also didn't sound half bad as it had a fairy tale sound to it and it helped with the fairy tale vibe. I wasn't a fan of all the tunes though as I did find a few tracks that didn't work with the game and ended up sounding hokey. Not everything in the sound and visuals is original as you will find a few things that can be found in the core design pack for RPG Maker but that's very forgivable.
While I'm at it, if you get stuck at any point during the game, there is an official strategy guide for the game (thank you RosePortal Games for showing me that).. Yes, I did use that for that one puzzle I got stuck on... And to look up all the crafting ingredients without pulling up the menu but that's all I used it for (eh, you won't believe that I used it for those two reasons). I did go over the digital book after I finished the game and it is a good resource for when you get stuck and it is also the only full guide for this game that is currently out there (hard to believe, I know). This book also has a nice section of the game developer going into detailing on the inspiration behind the game, the locations,, the characters, and the monsters. This section was a really good as the inspirations were much deeper than what I had anticipated and you will learn some good stuff and the trivia will stick by you forever*.
Overall this wasn't a bad RPG to play and while it can be a bit rough around the edges, you will have a good time with this game. Just make sure you play the game past the hokey opening as the game becomes way better after that. Decent RPG.
Game: Whisper of a Rose
System: PC (Reviewing Steam version)
Developer: RosePortal Games
Genre: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing Game (RPG), Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror
Price: $9.99 (Steam)
*Note: I know I'm going to get some crap for admitting to the two times I used the game guide and that's no joke.. But I didn't want to BS the readers (hard to believe, I know**).
**Note: Now that was a joke.