Thursday, 13 June 2013

Review: The Night of the Rabbit (PC)

Night of the Rabbit recalls fond memories of my favorite adventure games from my past – be it the Sierra or LucasArts classics or even some of the lessor known Dynamix titles like Willy Beamish or Heart of the Dragon.

The Willy Beamish mention was quite deliberate – the games have a similar spirit to them - taking control of a young boy in a beautiful animated world. Whereas Willy Beamish was a contemporary world, Night of the Rabbit is its own creation – a world almost taken direct from beloved children's books such as the Velveteen Rabbit or Winnie the Pooh.

You control the protagonist Jerry, a young boy who is lamenting the return to school and is focusing on enjoying the last days of summer vacation. He is drawn into the fantastical world of Mousewood by the Marquis de Hotto (a six foot tall anthropomorphic rabbit). The presentation style is definitely the highlight attraction, with your character interacting amongst artfully rendered environments. The interface will be second nature to those familiar with the old point-and-click adventure games, with your mouse becoming your only real required weapon during the trip. The game starts with a very bright and positive start, to the slow reveal of the underlying issues of Mousewood.

The game takes a very non-linear approach. There's no task list, no obvious "solve this problem to get this object" approach which will force you to almost make your own priorities for which issues to deal with first; the interwoven hint system will feed you a near continuous stream of nonsense, so you'll quickly find that you've been left to your own devices.

In terms of difficulty, it was not any particular challenge to anyone with any experience grinding through old Sierra or LucasArts games; however, those mental muscle skills haven't exactly had much practice lately – so there were some definite moments when my intelligence was being questioned. Most novices will need a little hand-holding to get into the game, but once they are in, they'll quickly take to it like a fish to water. Once you start to figure out the solutions to some of the more complex puzzles, you'll feel at ease.

Visually and aurally, Night of the Rabbit is a feast for the senses. The characters and world are beautifully rendered and the music and voice acting are certainly above grade for what I would expect from an indie developer. The choices for a more "British" approach to the characterizations certainly helped solidify the "Children's Book come to life" opinion in my mind.

Detractions? Pacing… It's obvious that the designers wanted everything to be geared towards all-ages. As a result, the dialogue at times spends more time dancing around the issue rather than describing it. By having all conversations maintain the type of dialogue you would read in this type of book, you drag down basic conversation by trying to increase its impact. Most adults will start rotating their hands at these longer sessions expecting the teller to "pick it up" or "get to the point." It's a real fine balance – drawing the audience into the story against boring the crap out of them with too much exposition.

All in all, Night of the Rabbit was an extremely enjoyable game, one certainly that most adventure game enthusiasts will have a fun time with. From what I've seen here, I'm looking forward to what other new material will come from Daedelic Entertainment.

- Tazman

The Good:
- Always great to see a return to adventure gaming
- Exceptionally beautiful game

The Bad:
- Some of the puzzle solutions are downright odd
- Pacing a bit on the slow side

Score: 8.5 / 10