Every now and then I like to play a game that reminds me that it’s not all alpha males and tactical assault plans. I usually do this by playing something like Rayman: Origins, which still stands head and shoulders above most games I’ve played in the last five years in terms of quality and sheer fun. I was recently introduced to The Night Of The Rabbit by Daedelic Games – a game that also made me realise my forgotten passion (and combined frustration) for the art of point-and-click adventures.
Videogames are a relatively new form of escapism but an effective one nonetheless. I can find myself lost in unknown worlds, battling evils I couldn’t dream of, and experiencing things that will leave me speechless. But over the last decade or so the escapism in videogames has stated to revolve around real world scenarios. We are no longer scurrying away into little fantasy worlds of make believe but rather neutralising real-world threats. Mystical tyrants are now being replaced with despotic dictators and part of what makes videogames pure and enjoyable is being lost.
There’s always going to be a market for games that portray realism and a darker side of everything, but sometimes I think it’s important to remember that video games can be about colour and whimsy and something altogether fantastic, and this is something that The Night Of The Rabbit accomplishes superbly.
In this point-and-click tale you play as 12 year old Jeremiah Hazelnut, a budding magician whose dreams and aspirations are soon to be cut short by the end of his school holidays. Soon his life will return to homework, bullies and the humdrum of everyday existence, but that’s in two more days and currently you have 48 hours worth of adventure to enjoy. Whilst exploring the nearby forest, Jeremiah finds a mysterious note with what he believes is a magical incantation recipe on it. After completing this ‘spell’ a mysterious and extremely well dressed biped rabbit called the Marquis De Hoto appears, an actual magician who offers to show Jeremiah a world of wonder and adventure as his apprentice, all within his allotted 48 hour time period.
From here there is a strong sense of the Alice in Wonderland inspiration – that embracement of the unknown and easy acceptance of the fantastic. Jeremiah travels around the different worlds in The Night Of The Rabbit with some truly gorgeous looking and reasonably funny outcomes. Imagine a strange combination of Robert C. O’Brien’s ‘Secret of Nimh’ and the early Winnie the Pooh cartoons and that’s close to what you have with The Night Of The Rabbit; a really quite charming experience which you can’t actually hate.
The main selling point for The Night Of The Rabbit for me is that it’s such a different pace from current genre of games. For a while it’s nice to just click around the worlds and see what you can interact with, collecting items and listening to some of the lullaby-esque characters reel off their text to you. The world that Daedelic have created really is the biggest selling point of The Night Of The Rabbit and is marvel unto itself.
After a short while though, you remember you actually have an objective and this usually entails getting from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’, using items gathered around the world and solving a series of brain-busting puzzles. This all sounds simple enough but being a tale of fantasy and a point and click adventure some of the combinations of items seem illogically ludicrous at first.
Despite the sense of wonder and the inescapably charming aesthetic that Daedelic have left The Night Of The Rabbit with, it’s not without its flaws. Well, I say ‘flaws’ but really these are simply drawbacks from making this kind of game. Anyone who has played the original Broken Sword for example will remember the ‘use everything on everything’ mentality when you are stuck, and The Night Of The Rabbit has a similar mechanic. There is a hint system in the form of Jerry’s Magic Coin, but it’s rarely of any actual real assistance when you find yourself stumped.
It’s also partially a victim of it’s own design as being given free rein over such a wonderful non-linear world means that you can spend a large amount of time simply searching screens only to discover you don’t need to be here until after you have ‘Item B’ from a section three screens away. The game leaves you open to explore but with this freedom comes an inherent sense of always being slightly lost. How much this affects you is really dependent on how much you enjoy being encapsulated by the ‘Curse Of Monkey Island’ style art and environments.
The Night Of The Rabbit is a wonderful little experience by a developer who are trying to resurrect an almost lost genre. I find more modern point-and-click games to still be enjoyable. This game isn’t likely to win any awards for outstanding technical wizardry but it’s most likely going to win the hearts of a few young (and not so young) gamers out there with it’s gorgeous art style, charming cast of characters and a good old fashioned sense of nostalgia.
The Night Of The Rabbit is out now for PC and Mac. This review was written by freelance video game critic Mike Smith of Screaming Joypad, a collective library of his reviews, blog posts and general ramblings.