When I first looked into Night of the Rabbit I saw this charming and cute adventure title. I expected something not terribly long and not terribly deep. What I got though was something that, pardon the phrase, takes the player down the rabbit hole and while delivering and amazing fairy tale like quality also manages to deliver a deep an engaging story throughout the fifteen or so hours you’ll spend venturing around the game world. Let’s take a look.
The game features two main characters if you will, your player character Jeremiah Hazelnut and his teacher in this adventure the Marquis de Hoto, an anthropomorphic rabbit dressed like a gentleman. Jerry is on the verge of school starting with only two days to go and is out gathering berries for his mother in the woods at what used to be a major crossroads before the world of cars and modern conveyances. He receives a strange letter with cryptic instructions, which takes a bit of doing to complete but ends up summoning a large magical chest and the Marquis de Hoto who informs Jerry that he can teach him the ways of magic and have him home in time for dinner.
The moment seems quite innocent but the Marquis seems quite anxious to be under way and is almost pushy in the way he gets Jerry involved. Jerry doesn’t pick up on this as he’s young and eager and accepts the offer to learn to become a Treewalker, a type of magician that can use old trees known as portal trees near the old walkways to move between worlds as easy as we step through the door of our house. And down the rabbit hole Jerry goes and into Mousewood for his initial training and the start of an adventure that draws you in the more you play. While the game is definitely on a slow and steady burn up to the finale, the game never feels bogged down in its pace and there’s always something interesting and new to see. There’s a large cast of characters in this game and nearly every one of them has something interesting to add to what’s going on.
The game is all based around 2D artwork that’s been wonderfully rendered in a painted style with a great choice of colors that really feels like a well done children’s book that’s come to life through the game world. There’s rough animations all around and while walking and picking things up generally looks smooth, some of the others look rougher but at the same time it maintains that storybook feel. The best thing I can equate it to are some of the old animated shorts I used to watch on Nickelodeon that were done on the cheap but were still entertaining. The interface, when you open up your inventory, also maintains this feel, looking more like something from the game as opposed to a game menu. Everything visually is designed to keep you drawn into this game as an experience and it does it well.
The voice cast really carries this game and they carry it well. The lead character never crosses into the area of being too whiny and is actually pretty positive especially at the start. Like Clementine in The Walking Dead it could have easily gone a different way and been a total disaster. If the artwork alone is charming, the vocal cast really help sell it and I found myself amused by the dialogue and the characters from the start. The music fits the visual and events well and overall there’s a fairy tale and even a big budget animated film quality to the whole experience that really adds to it.
The game is based around the mouse and it handles the chore of what you’re doing pretty seamlessly. If you want to look through to see special items you press the middle button, inventory you scroll to get to, click to move, click to interact, and so on. I think the only time I’ve had an issue was when there are several items in a cluster and holding the mouse just over the right item can be a pain but that was not often. While the game is mostly point and click, they do give you options to mix items as well, which is pretty much standard adventure fair. I did like some of the options to mix a concoction in a discarded soda can though. The gameplay is very much centered around the standard adventure game model with a few wrenches thrown in here and there to spice it up a little bit, but nothing terribly earth shattering as far as that goes. There is a journal that gets updated, but it’s not always the best for hints on what you should exactly be doing. Most of the time I ignored it as the game is, for the most part, pretty straightforward in your goals as long as you pay attention to what Jerry sees on items and the dialogue from the characters you interact with.
Balancewise if you can use what clues they’ve given you to piece together what you need to do you’re going to find this game a breeze. The hints they give you tell you what you need to do but don’t often hold your hand on how to go about doing it. As I mentioned earlier, the journal isn’t all that useful, but usually whatever you need to do revolves around things you’ve already got or things you need to pick up. Jerry lets you know when something doesn’t quite work pretty vocally. One thing I will have to say though is they didn’t scrimp on play time or content with this. Most adventure titles clock in around ten hours, but you’d be hard-pressed to get through this one under ten, and I’m really impressed at fifteen hours. For the price on this though you’re getting a really decent deal. It has a little more content and is more of a complete game than other adventure titles out there and priced under those without having to wait for the rest of the year to finish out the story. Not knocking episodic games, I do like them too, it’s just nice seeing a complete adventure title for a change.
While the game certainly draws on fairy tale themes and even a few ideas here and there from stories like Alice in Wonderland, the game starts with a talking white rabbit that leads you into another world, it certainly is its own world with its own story to tell. While I could see the influences within the game, the narrative choices and fresh characters drive this game, not a sense of childhood nostalgia. It feels new and old and wonderful all at the same time and I loved the game for it. But how is it for replaying? Well the game itself is pretty linear, as most adventure games are. The big thing to replay it would be for the great story although there are achievements for the Steam version if you’re into those, and there are hidden audio stories separate from the main game that you can listen to scattered about that aren’t always the easiest to get to. If I had more time I’d already be playing it again.
The artwork in-game is attractive enough, but the game is priced well and it has a rather ageless appeal to it that I think will appeal to a wide variety of players. The company has a decent track record with producing good games and a lot of the reactions I’ve seen have been very positive. For someone looking for a new game that’s a decent price you can have fun with, this would be for you. I was really enthralled with the game, almost as much as Jerry is with his magical rabbit companion. I mentioned it having a slow burn and I meant that. Once it gets going, though, it’s harder to step away as you want to see what’s coming for you next the further you move through the game.
While I don’t think the game is entirely fault free, I do think this is the best adventure title I’ve played all year. The combination of charming and engaging story coupled with some fantastic artwork driving the game along really got me into this one and makes it an easy title to recommend. The slower pacing and dramatic build up works well with the initial cute and charming settings to something more serious and gives the player a sense of completing all of this on their own as guidance is offered, but it’s never really enough to completely hand hold you through the challenges.
Short Attention Span Summary
Night of the Rabbit is one of those adventure games that comes along and takes you by surprise giving you an experience that’s deeper and richer than you thought you were getting into. With some fantastic art, a stellar voice cast, and a great winding storyline it’s a seriously fun experience. It won’t break the bank and is engaging enough that even people that balk at the design should get sucked right into it. The puzzles offer a decent challenge to work around and while it may not be the most advanced looking game on the market, the experience is far deeper than some of the flashier titles out there and far more rewarding as you go further and further into the game. If you’re into adventure titles this is a definite must-have and even if you’re not it’s worth your time to check it out.