The Night of the Rabbit

Posted by Davide Tomei.
First posted on 15 July 2015. Last updated on 15 July 2015.
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The Night of the Rabbit
Jerry is initially bewildered by the denizens of Mousewood.
The Night of the Rabbit
Marquis coaches Jerry on the fundamentals of magic.
The Night of the Rabbit
Plato is the mailman (really).
The Night of the Rabbit
Where there is magic, there is a leprechaun.
The Night of the Rabbit
Jerry follows the fox to a distant land in the far east.

The Night of the Rabbit Premium Edition

The Premium Edition includes, in addition to the game, an original digital soundtrack, 8 digital audio books, and a digital game comic by Olga Andriyenko.

The Night of the Rabbit is an interesting point-and-click adventure game from veteran German development studio Daedalic Entertainment. Aside from being a fantasy fable, the game is also a Bildungsroman—a coming-of-age story about a remarkable young boy whose fantastical imagination takes him on a personal journey, both within and without. The game features an eclectic cast of quirky characters and a distinctive fairy tale world. Unfortunately, a myriad of protracted yet obscure puzzles and an underwhelming ending prevent The Night of the Rabbit from becoming an instant classic.

In The Night of the Rabbit, you play as a 12-year-old boy named Jeremiah (or Jerry) Hazelnut who realizes that he has just 2 days of summer vacation left to enjoy before going back to school. The short-lived summertime does not worry the boy though, because his motto is "anything is possible on a day in summer vacation". Driven by his love for magic and his fervid sense of imagination, he wants to be an illusionist and dreams of embarking someday on a fantastic adventure into a strange world. Sent by his mom to pick up some berries for a pie, Jerry wanders off into the woods and finds a chest belonged to Zaroff, the greatest magician of all time. In a string of coincidences, Jerry also finds traces of a portal that can make him shift into another world as well as the instructions to open the portal to there in a flying letter in his mailbox.

Yet, before Jerry partakes on his otherworldly adventure, he meets an anthropomorphic human sized rabbit named Marquis de Hoto. A rather ambiguous figure, Marquis agrees to become Jerry's mentor and takes Jerry into Mousewood—a small town populated by (wait for it...) mice. Being a magician's apprentice earns Jerry a certain honor, for he must organize the Treetop Festival to throw a great party before he can move onto his training. As Jerry explores around to prepare for the festival, however, he notices that the town is not as jolly and calm as it first appears. Strange creatures from other worlds appear to be lurking in town, and ominous rumors are spreading of an hidden evil. Naturally, it is up to Jerry to uncover the source of this hidden evil and defeat his nemesis to save Mousewood and its denizens before returning home.

The graphics in The Night of the Rabbit are stunning and immersive. Every scene is vivid and brimming with details. The world of Mousewood is filled with the same imagination as that of a classic childhood fable. The 2D art style is a mix between cartoon drawing and watercolor painting. The game features dozens of hand drawn sceneries and modeled characters. Animations are fluid and natural. The cut scenes deserve a special mention, unveiling like pages of a pop-up book. Sound effects are also near perfect. Music changes appropriately as needed from merry tunes to solemn arrangements. Voice acting is among the best when compared to that in the developer's previous games. Dialogs are spoken naturally with an air of spontaneity, rather than sounding like they are read from a script. Indeed, it is easy to forget that there is a human voice behind each of the lovely mice that are speaking to Jerry as if he is their own kind. The voice for Jerry, in particular, is exceptional, embellished with the cherished innocence of a child. The dialogs can get a bit too verbose at times, frequently trying to pull a joke or a pun that is not very funny. Fortunately, the most important clues usually appear within the first few lines, so impatient players can click through most of the dialogs without worrying about getting lost in the game.

The interface in The Night of the Rabbit is minimal. Single click is used for almost all interactions in the game. As the game progresses, Jerry will learn different magical spells which can be cast from the game's inventory. These spells are important because they may be the only means to interact with the environment, such as talking to rocks or statues. Jerry also possesses a magical coin which he can peek through to reveal all important objects (in essence, a hotspot finder) in a scene. Moreover, Jerry can summon Marquis at any time to get a clue in case he is stuck in his current quest.

The puzzles in The Night of the Rabbit are fairly standard and straightforward. They range from combining different items in the inventory to talking to specific characters to trigger the correct responses. The modest difficulty is likely a conscious choice by the developer to make this game more accessible to younger gamers for which this game is intended. The game features a cornucopia of puzzles from start to end. In fact, there are so many puzzles to solve that it can be disorientating to keep track of all of them. The puzzles are well integrated into the story and coherent with the logics of the game world. Even though it is fairly easy to know when to think magically and when to think rationally, a few puzzles still require some tangential thinking to solve. Sometimes, it is difficult to know where to go or who to talk to next. Other times, it is difficult to know if a puzzle can be solved now or only later after interacting with a certain character. Further, the protracted narrative does little to help the players keep focus on the puzzles. Some of the locations are scattered quite far apart, so that it can be a pain to travel back and forth just to complete some mundane task. On the other hand, the extended exploration is rewarded by unlocking a number of bonus achievements in the game.

Notwithstanding the few flaws, the majority of the game is a pleasure to play. Unfortunately, the ending is a bit of a letdown. The game proficiently adds tension to the story, and yet this tension is partially lost in an unsatisfying, surreal finale. The darker twist in the story, subtly announced, never actually materializes. It appears as if the events of the story are suddenly accelerated just to cut the story short. While the ending narrative manages to tie up all of the loose knots (pun intended) in the story, it is still a pity that it happens in that way.

Beyond the fable facade, the game conveys a much deeper moral about commitment and determination. In the game, Jerry is portrayed as a young boy with a genuine sense of kindness and wonder, devoid of all obnoxious traits of a typical teenager. He also believes deeply in magic and is willing to help others without judgment and mockery. His commitment to become a magician never falters, and his determination to pursue his dream is relentless. In a way, Jerry epitomizes the message that imagination and dreams are useless without commitment and determination.

In conclusion, The Night of the Rabbit features a cast of memorable characters, beautiful graphics, and great voice acting but is unfortunately weighted down by overly verbose dialogs and dense puzzles. Nonetheless, for gamers who are looking for a vibrant, cheerful, and immersive adventure, The Night of the Rabbit is surely a trip to take down the proverbial rabbit hole.

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