There are many forms of media that manage to successfully target their products towards consumers of all ages. I could list any number of films that are directed towards children, but would go on my list of favourites – and that’s a characteristic definitely not just limited to films. Many classic Nintendo games, and in fact, many adventure games, tend to have a childlike feel to them that provides a nice change to the often dark landscapes and themes of the newer generation of games that are being released today. The Night of the Rabbit, a point-and-click adventure by Deponia developers Daedalic Entertainment, takes this childlike feel and teams it with some rather sinister and mature themes – with varying degrees of success.
The story revolves around Jeremiah Hazelnut, a young boy who lives a simple life on the outskirts of town with his mother and who has big dreams of becoming a renowned magician. Jeremiah, or Jerry, as he quickly comes to be known, begins his story on the second last day of the school holidays that he is, like many people, so sad to see the end of. Well – supposedly. When we meet our hero, he actually believes that it’s the day he will be forced to go back to school, thinking his holidays are over – which is unlike any child I know. But, that’s just me being nitpicky – for all I know, Jerry’s just a really forgetful kid. It happens. But I digress. While he’s out celebrating his last day of freedom, while simultaneously being a helpful child to his mother and gathering some berries for the pie she has agreed to make him that night, Jerry comes across a magical envelope, containing instructions that get his amateur magician senses tingling. These instructions lead to his meeting with a mysterious being that calls himself the Marquis de Hoto, who informs Jerry that he can train him to be a fully-fledged magician in no time at all – and so, the adventure really begins.
I don’t want to share any more than that for fear of spoiling a story that is actually very intriguing, and that had me wanting to follow through to the end just to watch the mystery unravel. I should disclose at this point that the Steam review copy of the game that I received did contain a few serious bugs that stopped me from getting to this coveted end, much to my disappointment. Despite the best attempts of the Daedalic tech support, I was unable to resolve these issues, but I’ve heard that these bugs were reportedly fixed before the game’s actual release–I’m unsure as to whether these fixes have been patched into the Steam release. That said, about eighty percent of the way through the game the story was still capturing my attention, so if the ending was as good as I was hoping it would be, the game might just be worth playing for the story alone.
In saying that, the overall tone of the game was somewhat inconsistent. As I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon for games to have a childish tone, and I have absolutely no problem with that, but I do have a problem with games that employ techniques that would clearly be appealing to children, but are just annoying to adults. When I say this, I’m referring to repetitive dialogue, somewhat lame jokes and simplistic language, just as a few examples. In this game, the repetitive dialogue quickly began to drive me a little insane, and I found that a few times, following different dialogue options would lead me to have the same conversation with someone three or four times – there was just very little variation. There were a few gems, and I really enjoyed the literary references that were thrown in (a reference to a novel called “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Egrets” was a personal favourite), as well as the comparisons to Alice in Wonderland that were impossible to miss – and I don’t think you can run around in a world full of humanistic animals and not mention Watership Down.
Despite what I’ve said, I don’t want to sound too negative about this game, because it does have many positive qualities. For starters, it is a beautiful game. There were times where I found myself just staring at the locations, picking up on the way the river rushed through the village, or the way the light emanated from a streetlight – and I am not the sort of person that likes to sit around and appreciate the scenery. The artwork for Night of the Rabbit is just that good. Couple that with a catchy soundtrack that fits right in with the fantasy elements of the game, and the whole thing has a great atmosphere. While the dialogue is repetitive, the characters are still quite charming and it is obvious that some real love has gone into their creation.
The Night of the Rabbit is a gorgeous game, with a user-friendly interface that runs into some serious pacing problems and is ultimately inconsistent in tone. The puzzles are not quite too simple, but couldn’t be described as difficult, either – they are, more than anything, often illogical, and follow paths that can be hard to justify or that involve a whole lot of unwelcome backtracking. That said, it has many charms and if you can exercise a little patience, it is a unique tale that may well be worth a look.
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of The Night Of The Rabbit by Daedalic Entertainment.