The Night of the Rabbit
The Night of the Rabbit is the latest point-and-click adventure from the folks at Daedalic Entertainment, who are also responsible for the Deponia franchise (which will receive its third entry sometime in the next few months). However, The Night of the Rabbit isn’t anything like Deponia. Deponia followed the madcap hijinks of a selfish anti-hero. The Night of the Rabbit is more restrained and whimsical — and has more than a few references to Alice in Wonderland — and in it you control a plucky twelve-year-old. Is this sort of change in theme a good idea? Keep reading to find out.
As The Night of the Rabbit opens up, you take control of a young boy named Jeremiah Hazelnut. Jeremiah has always wanted to become a magician — maybe a space magician — and as fate would have it, he stumbles across a magician’s trunk, complete with a wand and top hat. He then meets up with a white rabbit who offers to take him on as an apprentice, and pretty soon he’s learning spells, shrinking down in size so he can help the mice (and other critters) of Mousewood, and trying to foil the machinations of the evil illusionist Zaroff. And, oh yeah, he also needs to rescue his father, so life is busy.
The story in The Night of the Rabbit is well written, both in scope and in specific conversations, but it has some issues. The first is that it takes a long time for anything to happen after the introduction. For most of the game you run around helping the inhabitants of Mousewood, but they don’t have anything to do with you or Zaroff, and so the story goes into hibernation for several hours. And then there’s Zaroff and your father. You don’t interact with either character until late in the game, and so they don’t provide any sort of emotional hook. You’re not shown any examples that Zaroff is evil or that you particularly like your father. You just go about doing things because you’re supposed to, and not because you’ve been motivated to want to.
That means The Night of the Rabbit relies on its puzzles to make itself worthwhile, and it has better luck in this area. The puzzles are mostly inventory based, where you pick up strange objects and then figure out how to combine them and use them, and they are reasonably non-obvious while not being too difficult, thus making The Night of the Rabbit playable for newbie adventurers and veterans alike. Many of the puzzles in the game are clever, like a sequence near the end where you appear in Zaroff’s “show,” but others are overly restrictive. As an example of the latter, at one point you meet a mouse who wants some cheese fondue, but to solve the puzzle you have to combine objects in a specific order at a specific place, and if you try to complete the puzzle in the “wrong” way, then not only doesn’t the game allow it, you’re also not given any sort of hint that you’re on the right track (in fact, the game has almost no unique responses when you try things the wrong way, completely squandering a fertile ground for funny comments).
Along with inventory objects, you also learn some spells, which are attached to your inventory and are used just like the other objects there. Some of these spells include “rock whisperer,” which allows you to talk to statues and rocks, and “fox’s cunning,” which changes your appearance. The spells are nice because they give an extra layer of possibilities to the puzzles. They also make the interface more thematic. For example, early in the game a spell is placed on your lucky coin, and when you look through it (there’s a hole in the middle), you see all of the hotspots for the current scene.
The Night of the Rabbit also has some hidden objects for you to find. These objects tend to be small, and they don’t have hotspots, so you really have to concentrate to find them. The objects you can discover include dewdrops, stickers, playing cards (there is a “Go Fish” style card game that you can play with other characters), and stories. None of these objects are used in the game, so you can ignore them if you want, but like the spells they add an extra wrinkle to the things you can do, and so they’re welcome in that way. Also, for each story you find, you gain access to an “audio book” from the main menu. These books last for 10-15 minutes each, and they detail some of the further adventures of the animals living in Mousewood.
Overall, I found The Night of the Rabbit to be a pleasant experience — where all of the positive and negative connotations for “pleasant” apply. The game is constructed well, the puzzles are reasonable, and the voice actors do a nice job of bringing the story and their characters to life, but I also found the game to be a little bit dull and detached, and I wasn’t especially enthusiastic that it took me over 15 hours to reach the end. So I’m giving The Night of the Rabbit a mixed recommendation. It’s just one of those games where there isn’t anything really wrong or right about it, and it sits somewhere in the middle.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
This review is based on a digital copy of The Night of the Rabbit for the PC provided by Daedalic Entertainment.