Night of the Rabbit is sort of like a cross between Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. Daedalic Entertainment does a wonderful job of capturing the wonder and excitement of being a child and manages to add in just enough mystery and whimsy to take you on a memorable journey. This is a beautiful game that can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, both young and old, with only a few pacing and illogical puzzle issues stopping it from being a classic.
You start the game as a young boy, Jerry Hazelnut, who wishes for nothing more than to be a wizard. It is this boy’s imagination that leads him into the woods near, what appears to be, an early 20th century British city. It is in these woods, that Jerry Hazelnut meets the mysterious rabbit magician, Marquis, who then offers young Jerry Hazelwood the chance to become a real magician. From this begins a journey, filled with characters, who do a wonderful job of fleshing out the story. Many hold secrets of magic and ancient mystery. Very rarely are you sure of the intentions of the characters you meet, and quite often you will be left wondering if they are friend or foe, and what exactly is your role in this mysterious world. The story uses a unique method of using the regular world and a different, “magical” world, which are like two different sides of the same coin. Both worlds go a long way in conveying the duality of everything and create a fantastic feeling of magic, mystery, and intrigue.
The art style and direction in this game are fantastic, which is a big reason why I was drawn to it in the first place. The artists have managed to capture the feeling of being young and full of wonder in the art. The sheer creativity here, as well as the detail, look like something out of a children’s book. They chose to use bright, vivid colours, and they have filled the environments with plenty of detail. The love and attention given to the art, only gets more awe inspiring the deeper into the story you get. They also manage to keep the locations varied and fresh as the game goes on, from forests and fields, to snowy mountains, and others.
Before you get to this wonderful art and intriguing story though, you have to start at the beginning. This unfortunately, is a bit of a slow starter. There is quite a bit of reading and using a radio to go over the tutorial with you felt a bit odd. The way this game starts off, and the visuals, would almost make you think this game was aimed at younger kids, but due in part to the difficulty of some of the puzzles, as well as how vast the story becomes, tells me that was not the target audience.
Night of the Rabbit is a point and click adventure game, and if you have ever played this type of game, you understand that sometimes these games can get confusing, and at times, downright frustrating. Sometimes it is about what stick you picked up and who you gave it to, or the order in which you did it. More often than not, it is less about solving a puzzle, and more about trying every talk, give, set down, and pick up every combination you can think of. For example, near the beginning, you are given a quest via a slightly confusing riddle, and expected to figure it out. In order to do so, you need to do this quest in a very specific order, do it out of order and it doesn’t work, so a bit of trial and error is needed. Now this isn’t indicative of every quest, as most make sense as to how to continue, but there were a few that left me scratching my head and trying to endlessly click though everything, wasting my time and impeding my progress. Now this wouldn’t be such an issue, but the “hint” feature borders on useless. Besides explaining what your main goal is, well that’s really all it does. If you are stuck, it does very little to help nudge you in the right direction, this left me on a few occasions wishing that it helped more than it did.
But the few adventure game niggles aside, this is a game that is rewarding to play, and has a story that makes you want to see it through. The pace starts with so many questions, and throughout the game, you want to keep moving forward to see how those will be answered. There are some genuinely unique and original characters, and the writing is superb and wonderfully believable. The story has some wonderful twists and turns, and they go far in creating a magical and memorable journey.
Few games these days try so hard to tell such a unique and whimsical tale. The story of a boy growing up, learning, and battling the forces that would seek to corrupt him. This is not a game for everyone, but if you can look past the few adventure game frustrations, and the slow start, you will be treated to a magical world, incredible art, great voice acting, brilliant score, and a story worth sticking around for. Few games have made me feel like a little kid again, discovering a new world, like this game has.
Night of the Rabbit is available now on Steam for PC and Mac.
By Dayne “Anjel” Cody