Dark Parables 1: Curse of Briar Rose
(January, 2012 review updated in April, 2019 after playing Steam version
ENORMOUS spider alert!
The Steam interface does not work with this game, but I had no trouble getting it to go full-screen.
Options are separate sliders for Music and Sound, and Full-screen or Windowed. There IS an expert mode (no hints or skips available), but it does not unlock until you play through the game once.
The Dark Parables games are FR
ames (FROG's). For those not familiar with the genre, instead of finding items by list or silhouette, you need to find pieces of items, which will them form an in item that will go into your inventory.
Dark Parables puts their own spin on the story of Sleeping Beauty, and it makes for an interesting game that holds up to this day.
EVERYTHING you see and every inventory item you collect is pertinent to the story. There are no misplaced or out-of-time items that I saw.
I will say right up front that I generally do not enjoy this sub-genre as much as standard HOG's, but the Dark Parables games are an exception. Curse of the Briar Rose's
fragmented object scenes are so masterfully-integrated into the artwork that they are challenging, but never frustrating to find. Some of the pieces you're supposed to be finding will be different colors than what is pictured in your to-find list, but this is realistic. Items do
take on the reflected colors of the scenery around them, and the artists took this into account beautifully.
You will examine some of the HO scenes up to three times, but it will look different each time you visit, and every time is just as interesting as the first.
HINTS are refillable during the HOS. An interesting touch with the hints is that if you pick up an inventory item, then hit the hint button, it will show you where the item can be used.
Being one of the very early FROG's made - and the first game in this series - there is no map, no insta-transport, and indeed, no hints for the adventuring portion of the game... At least not what today's gamer would expect. Instead of using a HINT, there is an Inspect button, which will bring up small pictures of the locations that you need to investigate. Since there is a LOT of to-ing and fro-ing in the game, this is super-helpful! Once you've done all of the FROG scenes for a chapter, the Inspect option will instead offer to give you an Objective Hint. Using this feature will give you a three minute penalty on your hints, and will show you a small picture representing what you need to do.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of back and forth in his game, but they added a shortcut later in the game that will greatly-reduce how much ground you need to cover - a nice touch!
Puzzles can be skipped, but there is a five minute hint penalty. The puzzles themselves range from inventive (early on) to a marble puzzle that repeats a few times.
The combination of the music and the dark-but-beautiful graphics makes the game very immersive, despite being HO-heavy.
When you finish the main game, you will obtain a golden rose, that will 1. Allow you to play the game on Expert Mode, and 2. Give you access to a room that you couldn't get into on your first play-through.CE Content:
- 20 Cursed (morphing) items, which will instantly refill your hint meter
- Integrated Strategy Guide
- Bonus Chapter
- 5 Wallpapers
- 7 Music tracks
- Novels (three different interpretations of the story of Briar Rose)
- Concept Art (three versions of five different scenes)
- 20 Bonus (marble) puzzles
The Bonus Chapter is about 30 minutes long, and needs to be completed in order to unlock the bonus content (except for the morphing items and strategy guide). There is a repeating memory game that is EXTREMELY difficult during this bonus chapter. I actually skipped them after the first time, as they were just too much for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Curse of Briar Rose after all of these years, despite not being a fan of Fragmented Object Games. The game is lovely and immersive, and I found that I really enjoyed all of the to-ing and fro-ing, just so that I could enjoy take in the environment. Definitely recommended!