Mask Of The Rose review: a lavish gothic dating sim that’s a little light on romance

I had one question for Mask Of The Rose: Can I smooch the Cthulhu monster? I mean, I assume you can, they’re one of ten characters you’re able to romantically pursue in the delicious depths of this Eldritch dating sim. But in actuality, I simply don’t know, because after ten-plus hours and multiple playthroughs, that all-important question remains unanswered. It’s not something unique to my dashing, tentacled suitor, either. Many of my romantic pursuits in the Neath totally fizzled out. It’s giving Berocca when I wanted Coke and Mentos.

Mask Of The Rose is Failbetter’s visual novel dating sim set in the Fallen London universe, an already established alt-history Victorian London that the studio has been building over a decade as a quite excellent browser game. In this alternative history, London has been dragged through the Earth’s crust by bats and now resides in a vast underground cavern called the Neath. With the economy literally in the pits and Queen Vicky refusing to leave her cushy palace, London has become somewhat unruly, turning into a lasciviously gothic underworld home to a whole parade of monsters, devils, living statues, cloaked beings with red eyes… basically the entire cast of the Goosebumps books.

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