The Nardio Visual Novel Review
IS Rose of Winter WORTH YOUR TIME?
WHAT DID WE THINK WITHOUT SPOILING IT?
Huh… That was interesting
I don’t hate Rose of Winter, but I don’t love it either. But it’s interesting enough to warrant a recommendation with some caveats.
When I first dipped my toes/wallet into the world of visual novels I wanted unique experiences with branching engrossing stories and art. I wanted to merge my love of novels and comics into something truly unique. For the most part the jump into visual novels has been a worthwhile use of time and money.
Rose of Winter is sort of the experience I wanted. It tells four unique stories based on who you choose as your bodyguard Each one could have been, and in some cases should have been, expanded into larger stories. Still, it works if you aren’t expecting too much.
Think of Rose of Winter as a light hearted B-movie chick flick.
When I first played through Rose of Winter I honestly thought it was pretty dumb. Rosemary is the main protagonist of the story. She comes off as a newbie and innocent adventurer. Despite the way she acts and speaks she actually has a lot of experience. It was weird and off putting how unbalanced she was. It comes off as disjointed at best and irksome at worst.
The very worst part of Rose of Winter is the cringe-worthy intro experience. If you get past it you then get to the meat and potatoes of the game – choosing the prince you will escort. This part feels really disjointed because of the horrible intro. Then BAM! Pick a prince! Four choices and DO IT!
It just doesn’t flow well. I think this is a disservice to the story because there’s no lead up. Who are these guys. Why should I pick one over the other? Still, I gave it a go.
First I choose the dragon path.
Although interesting, I found more negatives than positives. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t click. It needed to be much longer than it was for the good ending to feel believable. The story is reads like a mediocre tween romance rag. There was some interesting story telling, especially when it came to the Dragon’s background, but it just never got off the ground.
I took a break before I went on. Rather than let this one experience mar my views, I jotted some notes and gave it another try. Coming back I discovered and loved the ability to skip that first painful intro experience. This made jumping into the other stories much easier.
Thankfully I was treated with three very different stories. They had some similar sections, but in the end Rose of Winter managed to provide unique experiences for each prince. Yes, the pacing was uneven and felt rushed. Sure, all of these stories takes place in about two days. They all would have benefited from a longer time period. If it lasted a week I could totally believe it.
Of all the stories, two princes do an emotional 180. Yet their stories are interesting despite that. One prince’s romance was just awful and forced. One actually worked and managed to tell a really fresh story.
Overall I think I got my money’s worth only because the author managed to create an interesting world despite the bad pacing and uneven romances.
The more paths you follow, the more the world comes to life. I thought I unlocked all of the good endings, but it seems I missed the achievement. It is a little confusing for me since all of the endings I unlocked felt perfect. Let’s see what happens with that. Despite my many critiques, I think there is a good foundation for more tales. I really hope the author expands this universe.
The art is different.
Now different isn’t always bad, but this feels half-hearted. And it’s poorly done. The characters just don’t mesh. Overall, it feels like all of these characters were made months apart and the artist never bothered checking the rest for reference.
At times it’s honestly not very good in my opinion. It’s even worse when you realize they all have a very limited number of portraits and facial animations. It just feels stiff and weird. This gets even worse when you realize the Rosemary just has 3-4 poses. It’s annoying during your first path and frustrating for the rest. Whenever the characters hold each other the poses just move closer together. It feels lazy.
Every once in a while there’s a cut scene. Sadly the quality of those shots are really uneven. Some look like rush jobs, while others look pretty cool. It’s a shame because this quirky art style could have worked if the artist/developer had put in a little bit more time. To make matters even worse there is no bonus art section. Even if I were more of a fan of the art, I can’t appreciate it. For a game of this price, it should include a gallery.
All that said; Rose of Winter was an interesting experience.
One of the paths (Little prince and his care taker) tugged on my heartstrings a bit. Two made me laugh (Little prince and Falkner)and it made me over think some interesting world building. The dragon path was OK.
Then there was the totally forced romance with Kuya. It made the dragon path feel like the Notebook. Kuya’s path was just bad all around. Lazy and rushed story telling. Horribly uneven art and a good ending that’s almost a slap in the face to the reader.
The Rose of Winter is not a perfect experience, hell it’s just a good/OK. Yet, it is engrossing in its own way. Once you get past that god awful intro and jump right into the princes things get interesting. Again, it’s far from perfect, but it’s good enough to waste a couple hours. Now is it worth the $11.99 asking price… ehhh. I sorta think so. The story telling is unique enough and it raised some questions. Some of the endings surprised me.
All in all Rose of Winter was immersive once you got used to the limited character poses and the uneven cutesy stuff that randomly comes out of Rosemary’s mouth. Think of this VN like buying a ticket to a cheesy romance movie. There are cute parts, there are groan-worthy parts, and there is a good bit of stuff to make you smile. It’s light hearted and just a lil sad. Rose of Winter is a fun way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Just don’t expect too much. Shut off your brain, grab some cookies and enjoy.
I recommend this visual novel.
Agree? Disagree? Write your comments below
BASIC INFO & WEBLINKS:
- Rose of Winter Steam Page
- $11.99 regularly on Steam
- Steam Achievements