Daedelic Studios has delivered the quintessential Point & Click adventure game in their new title, The Night of the Rabbit. Everything from visuals and sound to gameplay and good old fashion story telling, is absolutely fantastic. Set in a storybook wonderland full of magic and mystery, this game offers an incredible journey for just about anyone.
The main story is long and somewhat convoluted, but it takes awhile to really reveal itself. The game starts with a brief prologue in which you guide an anthropomorphic rabbit to look for something that feels like “Once upon a time…” And this is where the game begins. From this point forward you play as Jerry Hazelnut, a 12 year old boy with two days left of summer vacation, whose greatest wish is to become a Magician. In his quest for adventure, young Jerry explores the wooded area near his house. Soon this seemingly normal day takes a wonderful turn.
You eventually meet the Marquis de Hoto, a human sized rabbit who is also a magician looking for an apprentice. Following the rabbit sees Jerry leaving his world and discovering the town of Mousewood – an almost Winnie the Pooh like settlement filled with talking animals who live in tree stumps. This is where you will spend most of the game, meeting the inhabitants and offering assistance when needed. Along the way you learn new spells and even get to travel to other worlds, which are very different in theme from Mousewood. Whether it is tracking down a mischievous Leprechaun or helping a Japanese poet write a haiku, this is all part of being a Magician’s apprentice. However, you’ll soon discover that not all is well in this idyllic town as sinister figures start appearing.
I would love to tell you more, but that would spoil the adventure. I can, however, warn you that there is a lot of exposition in the game. While the actual video cut scenes are limited, there are numerous times when you just stand idle while characters go through long sequences of dialogue. During these times there is no way to stop or pause the game, nor is there a way to go back if you missed something. This really only becomes an issue if real life, such as a phone call or knock on the door, rudely interrupts your game time. I would recommend manually saving your game fairly often. The game does have an autosave feature but this tends to happen only after the lengthy dialogue scenes. So If you do happen to miss part of a conversation, you will need to reload your last manual save. This game is long enough already without having to go back and replay large parts of it because you missed a plot point. If you expect your story driven games short and to the point then you may be in for a shock playing The Night of the Rabbit. Just the initial tutorial and exploration around Jerry’s house took me over 2 hours.
Since the majority of gameplay is in Mousewood I would have expected the developers to rush you there as quick as possible. Towards the end there comes a very clear point of no return, where taking a certain action means that you cannot return to complete any unfinished business. From there it still took me another 3 hours to finish the game. At the very end there is about a half hour worth of video cut scenes that answer all questions and give a deeper explanation about what has been happening and why. While I really enjoyed the ending, I was a bit disappointed that it was delivered to me in a video rather than adding more gameplay. However, I think this would have tacked on another 5-6 hours on top of the already impressively large game.
Aside from the main story there are also hidden items and in game achievements. Among the hidden items are drops of dew, playing cards that can be used in a game against the other characters and eight short audio stories written by the games creator. I spent a lot of time trying to find every item and figure out how to earn each achievement. Eventually I gave up and just focused on finishing the story. In the end my initial playthrough clocked in at just under 16 hours.
Even though certain themes are inspired by classic stories, The Night of the Rabbit does not feel like a blatant ripoff of these tales. The writers did very well in presenting a completely new story that retains much of the classic charm. At the same time they include references that are more indicative of modern themes. There is also a history to the world that makes it feel real and lived in. Many of the characters seem to have backgrounds and lives outside of the game. They do not exist simply to give you tasks. In fact, the only character who seems to know that this is just a game is Jerry as he gives an occasional nod towards the player, usually along with some witty quip.
The Night of the Rabbit features hand drawn 2D artwork that I find absolutely stunning. All the characters themselves have nice levels of detail and fluid animation. They are further brought to life by superb voice acting. Every character is fully voiced along with colored coded text that mostly matches what is being said. There are a few places where the written text is slightly different from what is spoken. But these occasions are few and far between, and they don’t otherwise detract from the game. At one point, I thought these variations may have actually been intentional. There was a specific line where text made sense for the current situation but the audio foreshadowed a later plot point.
Equally as beautiful as the characters, the background scenery looks like it could have come from an old children’s book. The game uses Parallaxing to give each scene a feeling of depth. There is some lovely background music that fits perfectly with the visuals. Ambient sounds, such as flowing water, birds in the distance or crickets chirping in the night, complete each scene. More than once I found myself comparing the look of The Night of the Rabbit to the old Don Bluth films I watched when I was younger. This title really does feel like a well made full length animated feature film.
The only major issue I found was that there appears to be an incompatibility between the game and some of the older sound drivers used in Windows XP. The game played flawlessly in Windows Vista, but on my XP machine the sound would not play during cut scenes. Everywhere else the game had sound, it is just the video that is broken. Fortunately there are only six cut scenes in the entire game and they all have subtitles. So you can watch the scenes and follow the story, you will just miss out on the voice work and background music. I also found a small visual bug, where a single bush in the background covers up characters when they stand in front of it. However, it is only one bush in one scene. Considering that there are over 30 unique scenes in The Night of the Rabbit, most of which have alternate versions such as Day and Night, this issue is very minor.
Daedelic Studios is obviously familiar with the point & click genre and has taken steps to avoid many of the common pitfalls. There is a detailed tutorial at the start of game that takes you through the controls and inventory. While some of you more experienced gamers can easily figure out how to use the mouse interface, this provides clear direction to newer players. The tutorial also introduces you to the dry humor found throughout the game with instructions such as “imagine a mouse pointer floating in the air, now use that pointer to click on the radio.” Other elements are a bit less obvious.
For example, it is impossible to advance the story without having all the items in your inventory that you will need later on. In some cases your character will automatically pick up items that are not immediately needed. Early in the game you get an item that, when used, identifies the hotspots and exits in each scene. This makes it a bit easier should you need to brute force your way through some puzzles by showing you anything you may have missed, without constantly pointing out everything to you by default. Mostly the puzzles are fairly straightforward and avoid getting too esoteric. There were a few times where I got stuck and resorted to the tried and true method of using every item in my inventory on every available hotspot until something happened.
Almost every time, the eventual solution made perfect sense and I felt dumb for not figuring it out sooner. In one instance I needed to cook something over an open fire. After trying every item I thought would work, I began trying things at random. After a few minutes, I discovered an object in my inventory whose description included the term “heat resistant” and it was painfully obvious that this was the item I needed. There are also a lot of clues given in dialogue. For example, there was a character who needed help but would not accept it from me. They said there was only one in all the town who could help. I had a pretty good idea who that “one” was, however I couldn’t figure out how to ask for help on someone else’s behalf. It turns out I had to be given the name before I could advance to this step. So go around and talk to everyone until their text has been exhausted, it makes things much easier.
One big downside in this game is the help system, which is just about useless. In your inventory is a spell named Advice Seeker that allows you to get messages from a specific main character. Like any good Point & Click adventure the game gives you a primary goal, but there may be a dozen different puzzles that you must solve to accomplish it. Typically the Advice Seeker spell just replays a piece of conversation that reiterates your overall goal, it offers no input whatsoever on any of the interim puzzles you may be working through. There is also an in game journal that lists all problems the you need to solve in bright white lettering, once solved the text turns yellow. Mostly these feel like methods to remind you what needs to be done rather than tools to actually help you in any meaningful way. Of course having a quick reminder about what needs to be done might be beneficial.
Is It Worth Your Money?
Considering the story, gameplay and audio/visual design are all top notch, this is a definite, “Yes.” The sheer length and amount of included content makes me say that you will get your money’s worth. You can either get the $20 base game or a $25 special edition that includes the excellent soundtrack, and a graphic novel. If you are a fan of Point & Click adventure games don’t wait for a sale, this one is worth full price.
- Time played – 16 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- Resolution Played – 1280 x 1024
- Windowed Mode – Yes
- Control Scheme – Mouse, all keyboard commands are optional.
- System Specification – Intel i7 870 @ 2.93GHz, 4GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- DRM – Steamworks, None via GOG
- Bugs/Crashes – Sound Drivers in XP, One Crash in XP, Minor Graphical Bug
- Availability – GOG, Steam, Official Site
- Save Game Location – AppData\Local\Daedalic Entertainment\The Night of the Rabbit\Savegames