Imagine travelling back in time to the 1920s and being thrown into a murder case much seen in the likes of Sherlock Holmes. Imagine having the ability to ask questions at your own leisure to find out why the murders are happening and who is behind it. Imagine being able to read peoples minds whilst in the midst of conversation to see whether or not they are lying or hiding something. Well that is exactly what Capcoms adventure game Glass Rose advertises, but does it really live up to similar titles such as Revolutions Broken Sword or Psygnosiss Discworld.
Set in 1929 Japan, Glass Rose (Garasu no bara in Japan) begins with the present day lives of Takashi Kagetani and Emi Katagiri. After reading one of Takashis newspaper articles, Emi approaches Takashi regarding one of the murder cases he refers to. Unknowingly, both of them are sucked back in time to 1929 right before the first murder and for Takashi to return he must re-write history by stopping the murders or actually solving the case.
As the story unwinds, Takashi finds himself stuck in between a feuding family with many secrets and hidden agendas that all could point the finger at each other. Intertwining with the history of Japanese movie productions and the artistic culture of Pre 20th century Japan, Takashi realises that he must solve the case and find out who the killer is.
On the outset, Glass Rose has an interesting yet perplexing storyline that twists and turns albeit very slowly which as a result is the games first real disadvantage. The murder case and story progression is unnerving at times as you begin to wander through each character lives, whether it be the feuding sisters or the rivalry for one of the sons hand in marriage. Each character is given a detailed life and this works really well creating a brilliant tense atmosphere, but on the whole, the story is quite dreary, very unexciting and tedious.
For instance Takashi can interact with the people in 1929 because he just so happens to look identical to the Fathers lost son, so by playing the part he can begin to question the characters individually. To be honest that idea is very lame and seems like a quick decision to allow the game to start off. Plus also there are just too many characters within the game all with their unique relationships with each other and it just becomes far too confusing. Not being disrespectful to anybody out there with a Japanese Name, but after a while the names begin to sound too familiar meaning on average the European player will start to find it hard to remember which character is which.
The story tries to pick off and become more in depth by fronting Takashi as the main culprit in the murders, but this fails to make the stylish yet monotonous narrative anymore remarkable.
For a 2004 release, Glass Rose does seem somewhat lacking in the visual department with bland FMV sequences and rough-around-the-edges character design. Character models look extremely untidy when in cutscenes when actions such as walking and moving are concerned. However they do look a little more worthy when in question mode, but again the game suffers badly from a poor budget.
The scenery is quite detailed adding to the beautiful Japanese Customs of flower design and bright intricate colours and in some ways it is effective adding to the trend that Glass Rose shows, but on the whole many unimportant objects have a better design that the characters which really makes you wonder why?
On the other hand, lighting is used quite nicely to create shadows that appear over the walls and floors. The extra lighting really emphasises the brilliant range of colours used in the game and to some extent makes up for the poor effort seen so far.
Glass Rose also suffers from an extremely inadequate animations program with glitches making a mess of the game throughout meaning not only do characters look dreadful, they walk and move disappointingly. Takashi often walks into objects and very regularly goes in the wrong direction you want him to, possibly due to the poor controls system. It is really not up to scratch for a Capcom produced game to be honest.
Another really annoying part of the game is the lip sync element where the lips do not move in rhythm with any spoken dialogue and also takes forever for them to say their lines. You cannot skip the lines either when you have finished reading them so you find yourself fumbling around with the controller until the characters catch up. Obviously the game hasnt been modified for the English version.
Following on with the awful tradition the game has set so far, the sound doesnt fair any better. Insipid and Bland sound effects offer weak resemblance to the objects they appear to be such as doors opening and closing or birds singing. Sound appears randomly also every now and again meaning there are times when the game is in complete silence only making you even more fed up as you play on.
On occasion, mystery style music appears such as stringed instruments to offer clues or signify events that have occurred but on the whole these are few and far apart and quite dull really.
The voice acting isnt any better with laughable performances from every single character, meaning you get the impression that even the actors themselves really didnt want to be there, which as a result means you dont believe anything that they are saying.
Eric Kelso provides the voice for Takashi and quite poorly too. Feeble attempts at gasps and dreadful dramatic pauses doesnt help his cause either, and at times I found myself laughing at the samey tone Kelso gives to the main character. With Computer Game voicing experience from games such as the Tekken Series and Shenmue its a weak performance really.
Lisle Wilkerson voices Emi and very naively too. She tries to give Emi a very innocent personality but as a character she is annoying and the tired afraid voice just doesnt work and with her experience from games such as Shenmue and Rumble Roses, it makes you wonder what the point of their poor efforts?
A host of other experienced voicers provide voices for the host of the characters, but again all too miserable effect with monotonous tones and drained responses. Barry Gjerde from the Resident Evil series again lets down his creditability and Eric Bossick from the Silent Hill series does as well. It really makes you wonder if the person in charge of conducting the voice dialogues told the actors to give a poor and powerless performance. The sound effects including its power of speech is a very important part in this games genre, but Glass Rose fails to A. entertain and B. use any of the characters voices to its advantage, meaning overall the game is mind-numbingly laborious.
Whereas Games in the same genre moved ahead of the Point n Click style Gameplay, Glass Rose does not meaning the game relies on the users ability to simply click where they want to go or what object they want to interact with. Its very old school but not in a great way, for example simply clicking on an object doesnt necessarily mean anything will come of it, the cursor doesnt change for anything special so you find yourself clicking on everything in a room just find out if it is someway touchable.
But despite the aged point n click system, Gameplay pretty much relies on its speech mode where characters will talk to each other and Takashi has a chance to question each character. It usually starts off with Takashi saying Hello and asking the first question and then the character replies. With this reply, the words appear on the screen in a dialogue box where then you must ask the next question by using the pointer, highlighting some certain parts of the dialogue and seeing whether or not another question can come out of it.
To begin with this is really intriguing and especially original and for the first part of the game it can be quite fun to have the power to ask your own questions as it were, but after a while it becomes too repetitive and all of the fun is taken away and replaced with boring interactions. Mix this with the long times each character takes to say their words and the somewhat lengthy loading times between each room or scene, Glass Rose simply is a poor attempt at creating a mystery story using a usually effective system.
The inclusion of reading peoples mind by pressing the triangle button, only works when you have enough power and to be honest only a series of pictures will be shown again adding to all the confusion simply because youll forget which character is which especially when shown a picture of them. For instance a picture of a character will be shown, and then will flash and a specific object will be shown. This simply means you need to find the object then question that person about it. Tiresome and rhythmical all over again and when you have to do this 100 times over, trust me youll be heading for the off button.
Apart from all the obvious flaws, Glass Rose simply fails to provide any entertainment because of how slow the game moves ahead. Very much like an episode of 24, each event happens in an hourly time frame and if you havent completed each set within the hour, the game abruptly ends. The attempt to speed up what you are doing by the clock being at the top of the screen doesnt really help matters because after a while the feel of the game mixes and shifts from being particularly slow then clumsily paced and with the events happening over three days, youll begin to question why you bought the game in the first place.
Overall, Glass Rose does have its interesting catches, being a mystery murder case is one with a fascinating history of Japanese culture and unique Gameplay style, but on the whole you cant help feeling that it simply is under developed with shady graphics, awful acting and after a while a not so original style of Gameplay but a repetitive, doleful chore that simply will not end until you stop playing. Games such as the original Broken Sword relied on character wit, humour and original storylines, Glass Rose takes the serious route and as a result takes out all the fun leaving you with a poor unworthy game that lacks any replay value despite the multiple endings and a complete waste of your money.
Similar Titles: Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon / Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) / Discworld Noir (PSX)
Players - 1
Memory Card - 200 KB
Online - No
Produced by Capcom
(as of 07/08/07)
**This Game was deleted very shortly after release, you will find it hard to get it original**
Amazon.co.uk : £12.99
There is no website either, Capcom have taken down the site as well as deleted it off their records.