The Night of The Rabbit – PC
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: May 29, 2013
Rating: 7 out of 10
Reviewed by Malefico
The Night of The Rabbit is a 2D, point-and-click adventure/puzzle game set in a world that floats between reality and fantasy. You play Jeremiah Hazelnut, a 12 year-old boy on the verge of returning to the dreary world of books and homework. Before you do, however, there are two days in which to partake in a grand adventure.
Jerry’s great dream is to become a magician. It’s not long after he’s sent to pick blackberries for his mother that he discovers a character who purports to teach him the secrets of magic- the Marquis de Hoto, the Rabbit of the title. As the Marquis declares, “On a day in summer vacation, anything is possible.” The Marquis promises to teach Jerry to secrets of the Treewalkers, real magicians who can travel between worlds using spells and rare trees that are actually gateways.
But is he actually the friendly bunny he appears to be? Or is he using Jerry for a darker purpose?
Controls couldn’t be easier- point and click to walk, explore and interact with objects and characters, mouse wheel down to open/close inventory, and right-click to abandon item interactions. Aside from pressing keys to save/load and quit the game, you can play without ever touching the keyboard.
The art in Night of the Rabbit is fantastic. The backgrounds resemble the artwork in children’s books and convey a child’s sense of wonder, clearly the predominant tone of this title. The characters call to mind Walt Disney, Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series and on a darker note, Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. For me, Jerry Hazelnut is about 90% Christopher Robin and anyone who doesn’t make the Marquis de Hoto/March Hare connection is probably a reptoid and should be detained for the authorities.
The music, too, is excellent. Strings range from subtle to powerful and musical percussion from bells and xylophones provide a counterpoint to the haunting and beautiful melodies. I could sit and just listen to some of the tracks, they are that good.
Being a 2D adventure, the animations are simple but effective. Cut scenes follow the currently popular “digital comic” formula, with camera work and shifting images serving to convey motion.
Although the game’s graphics are richly rendered, the action is never fast and furious so the POS handled them with aplomb, with FPS ranging from 30 to 60. Cut scenes dropped into the mid 20’s but it didn’t hurt the quality of the scenes.
It’s clear by the contrast between the simplicity of the interface and the complex and varied environments and music where the developers spent their time and money. The result was well worth it.
The Bottom Line
Night of the Rabbit rewards the player with an immersive experience that draws you into Jerry’s summer adventure world. It’s the kind of game you can pick up and put down, but often you won’t want to in order to see the next world.
The game revolves around puzzles, which range from fairly simple to downright complex. Even early on, you’ll be expected to assemble a number of unrelated components to launch you into your adventure. In this aspect, the game is less than stellar- or is it? The in-game help system is so-so. It will tell you if an item is inappropriate to the task without suggesting a better possibility. I can see why this might be intentional. In a game like this that relies on the difficulty of the puzzles to stretch out game play, the developers wouldn’t want to give too much away too easily.
Finding the correct objects to complete a puzzle can be difficult. However, after you conjure the Marquis into the world, he tells you the secret of one object you already possess- a magic coin that shows you all the interactive objects on the screen when you peek through its center. After the introduction of the coin, this task becomes much easier.
I found some of the puzzles to be, well… puzzling in that the solutions weren’t logical. Thinking back on the experience, however, I’m starting to doubt my initial reaction. Follow me here- you are playing a child in a world that wavers between reality and fantasy. Can a player really expect a rigidly realistic solution to every problem? It’s a point worth pondering. I think the game asks you to you to take on not only the role but to a certain extent, the mindset of an imaginative child in order to employ lateral thinking and solve problems the way a child might.
The game does have some pacing issues. I found some of the conversations between characters to be on the long side- to be fair, a lot of it was exposition, but some of the stuff just takes too long. Additionally, some of the puzzles are needlessly complex, especially in the context of how they advance the story/reward the character. As an example, your first task is to take a basket and gather berries for your mother. The second requires you to assemble half a dozen components in the proper order and use the device in the proper place. Although not insanely hard, it does demonstrate what I consider to be a flaw- inconsistent difficulty. This issue, while not a deal-breaker, did take me out of the world briefly to wonder what the creators were thinking.
There’s a lot of content in Night of the Rabbit. Without seeking assistance, the game could take days to complete. From the humble country house where you start your journey, Tree Portals take you to numerous magical realms, to Mousewood- the first town you visit with the Marquis and far beyond. As you gain power and learn additional spells the adventure becomes more dangerous and menacing, and death is a possibility.
Night of the Rabbit is an excellent diversion, and a nice change of pace from the rather narrow world of big studio titles. I am more and more jumping on the indie/small developer bandwagon, and I’m on the verge of swearing off most “AAA” titles. As I’ve matured, I find the sometimes relentless, frenetic pace and mindless violence of mainstream games to mask an innate lack of imagination and substance. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy action games, but not for as long and not as often as when I was younger.
I also appreciate the richer environments and generally superior artwork offered by small developers. Although not a graphics elitist by any means, I do think a nicely rendered game world definitely adds to the experience, and this is where indie titles shine. The push from big developers has been to make games more and more realistic… As a gamer, I’m not sure that’s the way to go. I basically don’t play sports titles because if I want to play outside, I just call up some friends to shoot hoops or toss a football around. I have no desire to play a game that mimics an experience I could have in real life. So, is it necessarily a good thing that game franchises have in many cases become little more than graphics showcases? If you look at games like The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom and even little freebies like Coma on Adult Swim Games, developers are doing great work using unique artistic styles that are sadly lacking in big-name games.
Night of the Rabbit is one such game. The time and painstaking attention to detail shows in the world Daedalic has created. As mentioned earlier, the music also adds to the wonder of the experience.
The aforementioned pace problems are strictly a matter of personal opinion. With a young gamer, the detailed exposition and character development might be appreciated more fully. But Night of the Rabbit is not strictly speaking a kid’s game. Although it looks like a children’s book, it ultimately explores deep issues, notably the duality of human nature. I think a lot of this would be lost on a young player. After all, how many kids spend hours pondering the paradox of good and evil in mankind?
Night of the Rabbit would be a really cool game to play with a youngster, say between seven and ten. I think being able to experience the game in the company of a little one would give a more complete experience. No doubt each person would notice and appreciate different aspects of the game, and sharing that experience would more fully expose this title’s strengths.
As it is, I found Night to be an enjoyable play-through. Solid art and musical score are backed up by decent puzzle design, marred by only a few gaffes. I was able to step out of myself, if only briefly to appreciate the possibilities that used to materialize during summer vacation.
The only marks against this title are some slow portions of dialogue, inconsistent scaling of puzzle difficulty and sometimes failure to adequately reward a significant in-game accomplishment.
Then again, maybe I was not looking with the right eyes.
I’m giving Night of the Rabbit 7 out of 10.
Share This Post