Mini Review: “Rosemary” (Freeware Adventure Game)

2016 Artwork Rosemary freeware game review sketch

Well, a while before I wrote this review, I was in the mood for playing a “point and click” adventure game and I eventually found a vaguely gothic short freeware game from 2009 called “Rosemary“, which was apparently developed by MIT students in America and/or Singapore (there’s even an academic paper about the game). So, out of curiosity, I thought that I’d check it out.

Before I go any further, I should probably warn you that this review will contain SPOILERS also, for technical reasons I’ll explain later, some of the screenshots here are cropped slightly more than they should be.

Plus, despite what “Rosemary” might look like at first glance, I should probably point out that this is NOT a game for kids – for reasons I’ll explain fully near the end of the review.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Rosemary”:

Again, despite what it looks like, this isn't a kids' game.

Again, despite what it looks like, this isn’t a kids’ game.

“Rosemary” revolves around a woman called Rose who, after her parents’ deaths, is looking through their old stuff and finds a photo album containing pictures from her childhood. One thing that she notices is that she used to have a best friend (called Tom) who she had almost forgotten about and had believed to be imaginary. So, she returns to her childhood home town of New Rye to see if she can learn anything about him:

Of course, the place has seen better days.

Of course, the place has seen better days.

This also introduces one of the game’s more interesting gameplay mechanics. Although the town is abandoned in the present day, Rose can travel back to an earlier version of the town and talk to the people who used to live there (this is done by clicking the tree icon in the bottom corner of the screen).

I guess that you could say that her memories were rose-tinted.

I guess that you could say that her memories were rose-tinted.

Occasionally, when you find certain items, you can place them into a scrapbook (provided that they are in the correct order) which will unlock more of Rose’s childhood memories. Although there are only three of these memories, this is a really interesting gameplay feature:

The rest of the memory isn't unlocked until you find the relevant items.

The rest of the memory isn’t unlocked until you find the relevant items.

As for the rest of the gamplay, it involves fairly ordinary “point and click” type stuff – you can talk to people, pick up items, combine items, look at things and even smell things.

Although the puzzles in this game require a slight amount of searching and trial and error, you probably won’t need a walkthrough for this game. This is mainly because the game only has four areas that you can explore. Even though each of these areas exists in two versions, this means that there isn’t really a huge amount of exploration in the game and the game will probably take you less than an hour to complete too.

Even so, you'll find a fast-travel map, which you can only use when you are in "look" mode.

Even so, you’ll find a fast-travel map, which you can only use when you are in “look” mode.

Graphically, I really liked the whimsical – but dark – art style of this game. However, although the animations in the game work fairly well, they can be a little bit slow and not quite as fluid as I would have expected. Even so, they still work fairly well.

One annoying technical thing that I found with this game is that it runs in a large window instead of in fullscreen. What this means is that, if you don’t shrink the window, some of the option buttons can be difficult to press (hence why they don’t quite appear in some screenshots in this review). But, if you minimise the window slightly, then you can see all of the option buttons – but trying to click on the lower ones will result in clicking on the taskbar instead.

Thankfully, you don't have to use the "smell" and "put" buttons TOO often.

Thankfully, you don’t have to use the “smell” and “put” buttons TOO often.

Earlier in this review, I pointed out that “Rosemary” isn’t a kids’ game- despite looking very much like one. This is mainly because of the ending. This game has a very chilling and depressing twist ending, which is kind of like something out of a horror movie.

Although this is foreshadowed somewhat by the creepy abandoned town, by one line of dialogue and by the fact that the game’s story begins with Rose being bereaved, the sheer darkness of the ending still caught me totally by surprise.

Seriously, despite this obvious piece of foreshadowing, the ending still shocked me.

Seriously, despite this obvious piece of foreshadowing, the ending still shocked me.

All in all, “Rosemary” is an interesting little freeware game. Yes, it’s fairly small and it isn’t perfect on a technical level – but the art style is really cool and it’s also one of the most chilling horror games that I’ve played in a while.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a three.

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