Townies are the worst.
Outis Media has graced us with a prologue arc from their current in-the-works project, Garden of Roses: Summerset. After the ride that was Dark Waters (check our review here), I was excited to read more of their work.
For how short of a read this was, the amount of care the team clearly put into this never failed to surprise me.
You play as a 22 years old man, Will. He is finally returning to the hometown he had ran away from as a child — the town of Edelton. Within this town lives his father, Daniel. He is a suspicious but kind man who always has his pulse on community events. The rural town’s lifeline is a rose oil refinery, with magical roses which regrow almost as quickly as people harvest them — which Will finds “inherently tragic…”
This rose oil acts as a powerful pheromone for monsters… which is where our love interests come in.
While advertising media for the full game shows a total of four love interests — all female anthropomorphized monsters: two harpies, a holstaur, and a kobold — we only meet three of them throughout this prologue arc.
The first heroine is a currently nameless, short-haired redhead kobold with heterochromia and a tomboyish personality.
For the moment, she is simply the “Tutorial Teacher”, ‘awa’!
The second one is a dark-skinned harpy, Mariah. Unfortunately, past some eavesdropping on bitchy gossip and a sneer when we’re caught, that’s all we get to see of her. I’m drawn to her character design the most and I hope she’ll have her own arc when the game does see a final release.
Finally we get Rosa Oaks, the main heroine and love interest of Garden of Roses. She sports bright-pink feathers and long pink hair, consistently hiding her well endowed chest with her wings out of embarrassment. Rosa works at the town library and despite her shy demeanor, the locals seem to dislike her to a noticeable degree.
She is the only child of the Oaks family and the the heir for their cursed estate — a mansion on the edge of town that has fallen to disarray.
When Will visits the mansion at night, he notices a figure with a bent neck in the window that disappears as quickly as it appeared. However, his father insists that no one lives there anymore.
This mansion isn’t the only frightening thing we stumble upon in Edelton. Will’s father, Daniel, is shown multiple times beating and disposing bags of… something.
There is also a governmental organization settled in town which takes it upon itself to mediate conflicts between humans and monsters, and help them co-exist. However, there exist rumors of corruption within this organization.
Scenario writer Hatch has so many endless moving parts within this story that are perfectly positioned to explode into each other. That is, if they haven’t already and we’re just witnessing the aftermath.
The music features piano and light percussion, with a beautiful harp accent — very fitting for a theme of roses. I have to hand it to Irene Chan, she created beautiful tracks befitting this game.
ABBOTT outdid himself with the illustrations and character design. The town scenes each have night and day versions, with the brightly colored buildings and flora of the day replaced by neon house and street lights by night. I appreciate the small details, like the grime beginning to crawl its way to the surface in Daniel’s kitchen or the stars gently sparkling at night. Each character sprite is uniquely expressive and their color themes are spot on.
(That is to say, give me more Mariah, please!)
The UI is simplistic, with a handful of fleurs decorating settings and save menus. I have to say, though, it would be nice to see the same on the backlog. My only nitpicks would be the fairly large controls reminder on the bottom left corner. It throws off the balance of the UI, making it seem too cluttered on one side. The lack of an option to return to the title screen makes things complicated too.
I do want to give a special mention to the screen at the end of each chapter, where you can check what information you’ve gathered throughout the previous one. You can also read a special excerpt from another characters’ perspective, assuming you meet certain criteria. This cemented the feeling of a detective-esque mystery and drew me into the story even more.
VTuber Mavia also covered the game here, so check it out!