What makes Mask of the Rose unique are the unique and complex interactions that require critical thinking at every step. The visual novel/dating sim is filled with ambiguous characters, each with their unique lore and backstory, waiting for you to discover them all, and this guide will help you PREPARE for that journey.
We emphasize on ‘prepare’ because there is no correct/quick way to reach a certain goal. For instance, if you’re wondering how to save Archie, know that there are multiple options. The one you pick will be different from someone else’s, so read this guide with an open mind.
Table of Contents
Mask of the Rose – What is it about?
1. How to play – Mask of the Rose is a visual novel where you talk with a bunch of characters to discover the bigger picture. Each character has a personal storyline, and the way you interact with them determines how the relationship develops over the course of the game.
2. How to unlock content – Depending on your choices, you’ll unlock certain aspects of your relationships while others remain hidden. So you never get the full picture in a single playthrough.
3. Step breakdown – A lot of the interactions and results feel random at the beginning, but the entire content of the game can be divided into four categories: Census, Personal Quests, Case building, and Friendship/Romance.
4. How to save – There is no manual saving in this game. The game autosaves at the start of each day, so don’t exit the game without reaching that point.
Census – Getting to Know the Characters
In Mask of the Rose, taking the Census is where you get to know the characters. You’ll be collecting the characters’ information in the process, including their romantic interests and much more. Be curious, as you can ONLY unlock certain characters by going down a certain line of questioning.
Once you start taking censuses, you’ll get a feel for what the characters are interested in, and the ministry pays you more gold based on how thorough you were with the questioning.
Every new location will have one to two viable census targets. Try to get it all done within the first week because you’ll be busy with the murder investigation during the second week. Moreover, certain characters have personal quest lines, and it’s best to unlock them before the investigation.
How long to beat this game
Mask of the Rose’s single playthrough usually takes 9-10 hours, but it can take longer depending on how much time you take to interact with the characters.
Personal Quests – Developing Relationships with the Characters
You have a chance to improve your relationship with a character during the census. You’ll have unlocked a character’s personal quest once you get this option on the map: “See what you can do for (character)“.
Some quests are more difficult to unlock than others, so follow these steps to unlock more quests:
1. Pay attention to the conversations.
2. Understand what they are implying when talking about certain things.
3. Make a note of the important bits, as it’ll help you during case building.
Case Building – Pushing the story in a certain direction
Here is where the game truly begins. After the murder is revealed, it’s up to you to discover the murderer and concoct a plan on how to save Archie. This isn’t like most detective games, where you find a bunch of clues to find the killer. The game doesn’t hold your hand, and if you haven’t been paying attention to your conversations, you won’t catch the killer.
You must understand the characters, their motivations, and the relationships between them to find the real culprit.
Questions characters to unlock different story-building/case-building options that you can use to find the killer. For instance, you’ll discover Milton disliked David by questioning Phoebe and using it to build a case against him. Here are a few tips to help you build a case:
1. Fish for clues – During case building, leave some fields as unknown. You can discover more information that way.
2. Treat characters as unique individuals – There isn’t a single way to solve a case. The branching and interconnecting pattern of conversations keeps the game fresh for a long time. You won’t achieve your goal by simply putting together a random string of information. You’ll have to understand the characters and get to know them by asking questions, often intrusive ones. There is a lot of thinking involved, and discovering it all in a single playthrough is impossible.
Once you start talking to a character, you can improve your favorability with them. You can remain friends, become lovers, or even bed partners. Even wearing different Mask of the Rose outfits can affect your relationship with the residents of Fallen London. Learn more about it in our Mask of the Rose romance guide.
Mask of the Rose is a game of trial and error. You’ll have to be vigilant and pay attention to every aspect of the story if you want it all to make sense. The beginning, with all the census and information gathering, can be a bit mundane, but over time, it makes sense. It’s one massive puzzle, and being able to witness all the storylines is one of the challenges you can look forward to while playing this masterpiece.