Punchline’s ‘Rule Of Rose’: The Most Disturbing, Captivating Video Game Ever – 15 Years Later

One of my favorite pastimes is to play video games. I grew up with a wide array of survival horror games, and to this very day, I love immersing myself in the gameplay that can be uncomfortable, nerve-wracking, terrifying, and fascinating all at the same time. One of the most disturbing games that I have ever played was on the PS2 and called Rule of Rose. Developed by the company Punchline, it came out in January 19, 2006, and was published by Atlus and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The game was instantly fascinating and atmospherically disturbing to the public with a traumatizing storyline and subtle forms of abuse and sexuality, so much that it was banned in many different countries. To this very day, Rule Of Rose is a rare collectable item going for over $800 on many buy and sell websites. Here are my personal thoughts on Rule Of Rose and why I, to this very day, wish I could play the game all over again… regardless of its less than happy storyline.

Jennifer sleeps peacefully
An image from Rule Of Rose that is light, airy and complex

When it comes down to survival horror, one of the main features that I look for is storyline. Rule of Rose is one of those games where the story is instantly captivating. We are introduced to nineteen-year-old Jennifer who is described by the narrator as “unlucky.”  While wandering through the woods and exploring the abandoned Rose Garden Orphanage, she is inexplicably kidnapped by a group of female orphans known as the Red Crayon Aristocrat Club. They threaten her and demand she do whatever they say or else they will kill her. Due to Jennifer’s quiet demeanor and soft spoken attitude. she does so pretty much without question. What follows is a horrific tale of post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to all of this, she is mentally and emotionally stunted.

The Red Crayon Aristocrats
The Red Crayon Aristocrats Club house.

Rule Of Rose has many cringeworthy moments where you ask yourself, “What the hell…?” What made this game ten times creepier was the disturbing and dominant nature of the girls in the Red Crayon Aristocrats. Diane, the self-proclaimed leader, has a psychopathic behavior complex and seems to enjoy the torture and mental manipulation of the other girls who are her lower in her command. Unfortunately, Jennifer happens to be the lowest of the low.

Diana, the self proclaimed leader of the Red Crayon Aristocrats
Diana, the self proclaimed leader of the Red Crayon Aristocrats

Diana’s storyline and progression are the most disturbing. From sexual confusion and psychotic behavior to her disturbing, creepy, no-nonsensical attitude, she scared me the most by far. She pretends to love all of her fellow Aristocrats, when the reality is, she is backstabbing and manipulative them in the worst ways possible. Due to the fact that she knows she is corrupt, she has a immense hate for the main protagonist who is everything that she never will be.

Amanda one of the next in line behind Diana
A disturbing moment from the character Amanda

All through the game, we see various moments where Jennifer allows herself to be tortured and bullied by other children. This and the various hints at sexuality between children is why the game was banned in the very place it was supposed to take place, which I found quite amusing, especially if you play it to completion today. There is a quick conclusion that, although Rule Of Rose hints at sexual nature, there is actually none. Torture, however, is evident, and there are many instances of it, from animal torture to physical torture to mental torture.

Red Crayon Torture

It’s not until the end when you realize things are not what they seem, but that the game itself was great. It was a fascinating walk into the mental and emotional horror of a young girl with a disturbing and troubled past. The characters are fascinating and the storyline is even more intricate.

It isn’t everyday where I can look at a game the same way I do as Rule of Rose. To me, it was a perfect game. Many may not agree, although they may forget that life in itself is disturbing, and even though the game holds no outward educational value, much can be taken from a story like this if you just change your perspective.

Surrounded by torture
A perfect example of the creepy atmospheric pressure of The Red Crayon Aristocrats.

Another aspect I love from Rule Of Rose is how children, especially young girls, can be easily manipulated, especially if the brainwashing is hidden under the guise of innocence. In the end. it seems many of them don’t know that what they were doing was incredibly sick and sadistic, because they were never told what was right or wrong and were just led to believe by their leader that their behavior was the right thing to do. It’s cruel look into reality because, regardless of what we believe, in this world, the mental manipulation of children is a real thing, and so is the bullying and disguise of approval that can come from someone in a leadership role.

One of my favorite bosses in any video game is Clara, who also has a disturbing storyline.

Just like in other survival horror games, you come across various bosses and obstacles. Clara the mermaid was the one that freaked me out the most while playing Rule Of Rose. Even today, the image of her struggle and torment is still by far the creepiest thing I have seen in a video game. There are many uncomfortable moments in this game. It is disturbing on a whole other level, and because of that, it is so incredibly unique and fascinating.

About HorrorVision

I am a 35 old avid horror fan with a passion for writing and old movies. I love discussing and viewing movies old and new, everything horror fascinates me its a wonderful work of art that is underestimated by many.

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