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One Of The Rarest Horror Video Games Isn't What You'd Expect

Horror video games have a colorful, if storied popularity history. The genre has always been fairly niche, but it has had its ups and downs. Many audiences doubted the medium after Dead Space 3, but then Konami rekindled faith in survival horror with P.T. right before the company shattered that faith by canceling Silent Hills. And yet, P.T. has provided a treasure trove of secrets and inspired titles that try to recreate its scares. P.T. is hardly alone, though, as many gamers still love to discover and rediscover horror game classics of yore.


However, the problem with reliving horror games from the past is that they usually stay there: in the past. Unless a horror game is remastered, rereleased for modern platforms, or made available through digital storefronts such as Steam or GOG, it transforms into a rare gem you will never get to experience firsthand unless you shell out a ton of money on eBay.

Case in point, one of the world's rarest horror video games is a title with an infamous history that accentuates its rarity. You might never have played this game, and depending on where you live, you might not have heard of it, either. Still, this game is worth playing if you should ever find a copy, assuming you can.

Rule of Rose

Rule of Rose is a story about a young woman named Jennifer, who, through some odd circumstances, finds herself trapped aboard an airship and at the mercy of a psychotic group of young girls called the Red Crayon Aristocrats. The game revolves around satiating the girls with monthly tributes, exploring the airship, and just generally surviving.


Even though Rule of Rose isn't known by many people, it made a name for itself in survival horror circles by tackling very dark and disturbing subjects that surpass its more popular peers. While games such as Silent Hill utilize narrative aspects such as cults, insanity, and suicide, Rule of Rose adds in animal abuse, psychological torture, and numerous other social taboos. Add in the knowledge that the perpetrators of these crimes aren't even old enough to play video games like Rule of Rose, and already dark undertones take on an even more sinister nature.

As the game progresses, players piece together a story told out of order and more representative than literal. The narrative doesn't make sense until the end, but when you finish the game and start a second run, your second playthrough will be full of "Aha!" moments where you see how everything clicks together and what it represents.


Why Rule of Rose is so rare

Rule of Rose didn't sell many copies. However, the reason behind its shoddy sales is a melting pot of poor timing, bad reviews, and the precursor to today's cancel culture.

The game's first major hurdle — which it failed to clear — was the release date. The game launched in September 2006, a month almost to the date before the PlayStation 3's launch. Normally, quality can offset a last-minute release, but that wasn't in the cards because reviews for Rule of Rose were fairly mediocre. Many audiences who discovered the game years after the fact realized that underneath some control and mechanics problems lies a story that is worth playing.


However, what truly sunk Rule of Rose's chances was a raging bonfire of moral panic. The rumor mill spread claims that the game featured children being buried alive — among other patently false beliefs. Regardless of rumor veracity, Rule of Rose never released in the UK, and the ban threatened to spread to other European countries, including France and Poland. While most of Europe saw the game, Australia and New Zealand followed the UK's example, which cut Rule of Rose off from numerous potential sales, ensuring its future rarity.