The Night of the Rabbit Review
Beautiful artwork, excellent voice acting, and classic adventure gameplay.
Some bugs that made their way through production.
Daedalicâ€™s Night of the Rabbit is a charming fairy tale with fun– though not revelatory– gameplay, beautiful graphics, and excellent voice acting. Â Daedalic has a knack for off-beat stories (check out Chaos on Deponia and Deponia) and Night of the Rabbit is no different. Â Night feels in its high points like the charming prologue to a series of childrenâ€™s magical adventures. Â Thereâ€™s nothing earth-shattering about the game or the story, but itâ€™s an engrossing, charming, and often-funny story about the magic to be found (and made) in the waning days of summer.
Night of the Rabbit begins where all good childhood adventures do: in the final few days of summer vacation, when a boy named Jerry Hazelnut follows a white rabbit named Marquis de Hoto into the woods in hopes of becoming a magician. Â There he finds Mousewood, a village of mice, hares, hedgehogs, and the occasional dwarf. Â His brief is simple: as the new apprentice of the Marquis, he has to help the town of Mousewood prepare for the Treetop Festival, which generally means collecting and combining a series of items and delivering them in the hands of the appropriate people, er, animals. Â Along the way, Jerry meets the charmingly eccentric residents of Mousewood, which includes a cranky hare, two brother hedgehog repairmen, a snotty mouse child, and a mole with a booming radio voice. Â There is no sense of urgency during this time of preparation, only the sprawling feeling of the final days of summer. Â Jerry learns a series of usable magical spells, and heâ€™s well on his way to becoming a master magician himself.
As this goes on, thereâ€™s a slight air of menace around the town of Mousewood, which largely consists the presence of strange creatures wearing people-masks. Â Their presence strikes the right balance between silly and sinister, and that mood shifts more in the direction of the latter after Jerry returns home to find that heâ€™s been gone for quite some time and his home and his city have been taken over by pollution and grime. Â After he has some hope inspired in him (literally– youâ€™ll see), he returned to Mousewood to find it, too, changed. Â The early play drags a little but hits its stride during these later acts, as Jerry works to free the citizens of Mousewood from the strange little men in their people masks.
â€œOh, so youâ€™re looking for the beginning of your story.Â If we can find your beginning, we can go from there.â€ â€“ the Wood Sprite
The story is told in a traditional five-act structure, with its crescendo in the final act.Â The characters are primarily archetypes and rarely go beyond those limits, but that works for a game as similar to a fairy tale (or, perhaps, Alice in Wonderland) as Night is, and itâ€™s never necessary for characters beyond Jerry to slough off those frameworks.Â A grumpy hare, a Dude-like magician, an enigmatic white rabbit are exactly what they appear to be.Â The story isnâ€™t theirs, however.Â It belongs to a boy named Jerry.
At its heart, Night comes from the world that Sierra and LucasArts built in the 80s and 90s: point-and-click combine-the-item adventure. Â None of the puzzles are particularly challenging, unlike some of the vexing moments in the beautiful Daedalic-published Machinarium, but this makes for easy, relaxed gameplay. Â Daedalic has the classic adventure game formula figured out, and there are multiple unique gameplay elements that elevate it beyond the standard combine-the-item play (though thereâ€™s plenty of that). Â The first of this is a helpful gold coin that, when looked through, provides Jerry with a magical glimpse of the world around him, to include identifying hotspots, which can be helpful in a pinch. Â The second is a spell that changes the world from day to night and back again, a clever touch that also means thereâ€™s a lot of backing-and-forthing, which can get a little tedious.Â As is fairly standard in games of this genre, thereâ€™s a lot of moving back and forth between various scenes to ensure that every little bit of inventory is picked up, which can become tedious but is far from problematic.Â A spell called â€œAdvice Seekerâ€ provides hints when needed, though most of the puzzles are self-evident enough to preempt any usage of this, except when specifically scripted into the gameplay as a necessity.Â The game is, to its credit, also longer than youâ€™d anticipate.
Graphics and Sound
As usual, Daedalic knocks it out of the park with their beautiful graphics, sound design, and voice acting. Â Every set piece is a beautiful revelation: day scenes are completely different at night and beautifully so. Â The design supports the magic of Mousewood, and every interior and exterior is gorgeously crafted. Â Even brief side adventures, like a foray into a Japanese garden, become places you want to visit. Â The change from day to night in some scenes yields new characters and scenery: for instance, day near a dwarfâ€™s house shows darkened windows and a lack of life.Â Night, on the other hand, has the eerie outlines of dwarves mining in the dark.Â A quiet hare garden during the day turns into a raucous party at night.Â The music is also gorgeous, primarily folkish string pieces that enhance the quirky fairy tale atmosphere.
Itâ€™s hard to say whether this was specific to my version or not, but I had some game-breaking technical issues in the final chapters, including white screens of death, bizarre garbled text, and tiled images. Â This was generally fixed by saving, quitting, and restarting, but thatâ€™s not really fun for anyone.
Nothing much, though the game is available in multiple languages, to include a German audio track, though it should be noted that the English-language voice acting is far superior.Â There is also an entertaining mini card-game that resembles Go Fish and, once learned, can be played with citizens of Mousewood for fun.Â There are also collectible stickers and dew drops throughout the game.
At $19.99 on Steam for both Mac and PC, itâ€™s definitely worth checking out, if for the voice acting and artwork alone.Â The story itself is sweet and charming, and the gameplay tweaks elevate it to more than just a standard adventure game.