It’s quite possible I’ve never played an adventure game with such charm. Night of the Rabbit looks like the type of warm, gentle, and intelligent cartoon we just don’t get in today’s CGI world of hyperactivity, celebrity egotism, and fart jokes. It plays as if you’re reading a quality children’s book from the days when adults were always presented as the villains (and, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we really are).
That’s not to say adults are the villains of Night of the Rabbit. Rather, lack of imagination is. Complacency is. There are only two days left until our young hero and aspiring magician, Jeremiah Hazelnut, has to go back to school, and what better way to spend it than to go on an adventure?
But not even Jerry could have imagined the adventure on which he embarks, which is all the better for us.
After receiving a magical letter and following its instructions (which serve as a great introduction to the puzzle logic the game uses throughout), Jerry meets the Marquis de Hoto, a fellow magician who also happens to be a red-eyed rabbit. Mousewood—the parallel world in which Jerry quickly finds himself—is beautifully hand drawn, calling to mind the worlds of Don Bluth (I had to watch The Secret of NIMH again after playing Night of the Rabbit for a while). Jerry meets new friends here (talking animals, of course), and is having a grand old time until the evil wizard Zaroff turns things upside down, and we realize that perhaps the Marquis had more in mind for Jerry than to simply make him his apprentice.
The story by developer Matthias Kempke becomes darker and more mature than one would expect, but it’s nothing my 7 and 9 year old children couldn’t handle. Themes such as loyalty, friendship, courage, and emergence from childhood are expected, but the way the game approaches these subjects is quite touching.
Unfortunately, however, a couple minor development hiccups get in the way of the story. First, the puzzles could’ve used some refinement. As with most point and click adventure games, the majority of the puzzles are inventory based. In a magical world such as Mousewood, you’ll need to think beyond the obvious use of various tools, meaning a lot of the puzzles solving is a matter of trial and error.
More than I would’ve liked, the ultimate answer to a puzzle was the last combination I would’ve though to try, which can be frustrating. Also, the puzzles themselves are often quite laborious, with numerous steps required in order to work through them. I usually save games between puzzles in adventures. With Night of the Rabbit, I frequently had to give up in the middle of them.
Another problem is that the objects you need are sometimes hidden very close or under other objects. Early in the game, you get a magic coin that allows you quickly see areas on screen with which you can interact. This is very handy, but it’s still sometimes difficult to get to the object you need. My kids like to control the mouse when playing adventure games, but I had to take over just to help them get the item they needed.
These problems don’t kill the overall experience, however. We’ll call them the obligatory fart jokes in an otherwise smartly written adventure. Night of the Rabbit is a fun, touching story set in a beautiful world in which adventure gamers will be happy to spend their time, with or without children.
Category: Adventure game
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
System Requirements: 2Ghz Dual Core Intel Mac, OS X v10.7 Lion, 2GB RAM, 6GB hard disk space
Review Computer: 3.2Ghz Intel Core i3 iMac, OS X v10.8.2, 4GB RAM, 512MB ATI Radeon HD 5670
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Intel
Price: $19.99 ($24.99 for Premium Edition)
Availability: Out now