Investigate a funeral home where the dead don't stay dead!
Black Rose is a first person horror game developed in Unity. You play as a mortician investigating an old funeral home where all its workers have mysteriously died.
In terms of atmosphere, this game is pretty well done. The ambient noise is creepy and the funeral home is dark and foreboding. The entity named "Myrtle" isn't terribly frightening, but the combination of sounds and flickering flashlight during chases more than make up for it. The flashlight itself could use some work, as it always throws a perfectly circular light regardless of where you point it. At least it doesn't need new batteries every few minutes.
If you're wondering why I covered aesthetics so early in this write-up, it's because I wanted to point out the game's more positive attributes first. Yup, it's all downhill from here, so let's get rolling.
For starters, this title offers no handholding. While typically a positive point for RPGs, it's not always so great for horror. Don't confuse this with the appearance of being lost (that's also great in horror titles) as there's very few places available for you to go here early on. Take the very start of the game for example - the chapel door is locked up until you first meet Myrtle. At no point are you clued that it has unlocked, nor are you given a key of any type.
You're obviously supposed to either:
- Fumble with every door until you find what's unlocked.
- Have a walkthrough handy so you don't have to deal with pace-killing trial & error gameplay.
- Be psychic to compensate for the developers' complete lack of exposition.
With so many locked doors, you spend half the game backtracking in an attempt to figure out where a newly acquired key goes, ruining the pace and tension. The other half of the game is spent being frantically chased, which at first sounds thrilling but ultimately becomes tedious and confusing (in a bad way). Myrtle seems to disappear if you run to certain locations, but can apparently teleport for reasons unknown too.
Regardless of whether you play "Timed" or "Story" mode, you don't get any checkpoints for at least the first three chases (maybe longer). Since getting caught means game over, you'll end up replaying the same scenes ad nauseum. Of course it's not entirely boring - if you make one wrong turn or get blocked by some conveniently placed furniture during a chase, you'll be treated to a heavy dose of frustration as well!
Speaking of frustrating, how about those pop-up notes requiring you click the 'Continue' button with the mouse only? That sounds like a minor gripe until you realize you're stuck in place until you hit that button... and on chases where every second counts, I guarantee that damn button will be what ends up killing you!
While I'm on the topics of the UI and getting killed, I even have a problem with the 'game over' screen. It says "GAME OVER -- Restart? [YES] or [NO]". Does something about that seem off to you? It took me some time to realize what it was exactly, but I finally figured it out. If the game has checkpoints and save data, wouldn't it be easier and clearer to ask a player if they want to continue (instead of restart)? I have to wonder how many people (myself included) ruined their progress by easily misunderstanding the game over screen and hitting the wrong button. It's as if this game was purposely designed to be vague and confusing!
As confusing as this game can be, I'm far more perplexed by the percentage of positive reviews this game has on Steam. I can't imagine a significant portion of people finding this type of game experience "good". Hell, I questioned whether the game was trolling to the point that I looked up videos on it after my own stream just be sure. I'm still uncertain if my game was just really bugged or if all those positive reviews were left as a joke.
Maybe you'll have a better experience with Black Rose than I did - supposedly many have. Don't say I didn't warn you, though!