Whisper of a Rose


I finished playing Whisper of a Rose.

I’m sad that it’s over. All the places still seem live in my mind. Why did this game capture my imagination so much? I haven’t really played RPGs at all. It feels so first-person. Books and movies tend to be through a screen. Ron and Hermoine aren’t your friends, they’re Harry’s friends. But playing as Melrose, I feel like Hellena, Diamond, and Christina are my friends. It’s more experiental.

The story is amazing. The characters have strong personalities, ways of talking. Games are a bit different from writing a novel, because you don’t get to put in detail and looong conversations, you have to get to the essence.

What’s the essence here? In a gloomy world in the near-future, Melrose is a girl who loves to dream, of worlds where flowers are as large as trees. The story starts with her narrating a story about a knight saving someone from a dragon. But the associated memory is of her trying to save a ladybug from a bully; the bully slapping her and then setting the ladybug on fire with his lighter. (Later on (SPOILER), she meets a ladybug, Diamond, in the dreamworld, and has to save his villagepeople, who had their village burned by the trolls.)

Story isn’t about escapism. (Sometimes people are apologetic about this – oh, x is just an escape for me. I don’t think so! That’s just “completing the pattern.” Here’s another pattern: stories make us feel the important things in life.) This kind of realworld-fantasy link is to me what underlies the best stories. Goodness isn’t just to be taken out when someone has been kidnapped by a dragon (because dragons are Exciting), but even when a lowly creature is being hurt by a playground bully. Story is about enchantment. A dragon and a bully are the same thing.

Melrose is a dreamer (she stays after school typing her story, then goes to the museum). After getting into her rhythm, the real world abruptly intrudes (plot twists here), and it is pretty ugly. The story is emotionally driven. She has a strong personality; her history has made her callous/distrusting, but this changes gradually over the course of the adventure. The dream landscapes start from childhood-like and grow more mature/sinister (My favorites are Lekora the Tree Village and Vestryka in the volcano, accompanied by heroic music.), and things in the dream world correspond to things in her actual life.