'Anything is possible on a day on Summer Vacation', no truer words have been said, but when you grow old you tend to shortly forget the magical innocence of youth. The renowned adventure game enthusiasts at Daedalic Entertainment have sought to capture this atmosphere in their latest game The Night of the Rabbit that follows Jeremiah Hazelnut through an imaginative journey as he seeks to become a Magicians Apprentice on his last day of Summer Vacation.
If you're familiar with Daedalic's catalogue of lush hand drawn adventures then you already know that they are bound to capture your imagination with the very characters on screen, whilst The Night of the Rabbit is not as ornate as the likes of Chains of Satinav, much like the comic Deponia, Night of the Rabbit finds an art style to match the children's tale vibe that the game emanates; colours are bright and vivid and dialogue is innocent enough for a child to enjoy and charming enough for adults.
It’s not just the look of Night of the Rabbit that ticks all the boxes for a quaint children's story, it's topped off by the flurry of anthropomorphic characters that litter the small forest of Mousewood, from hedgehogs to mice, rabbits, squirrels and frogs there’s a veritable assortment to melt your heart, like Anja the experimental baketress, or the Hedgehog carpenter brothers that appear to argue more than they get work done, the ridiculously cute Ursula the owl, the hilarious Mr Churchmouse and his son, or the loveable Plato, there are just so many distinctive characters that pull you into its rich world.
However things are not quite as they seem in Mousewood, crow attacks ensure that its inhabitants remain inside the forest, and your mentor the Marquis de Hoto seems to be hiding more than a few secrets. This isn’t even acknowledging the ominous posters that begin appearing for The Great Zaroff, and the mysterious ghostly figures that emerge as you proceed on your way to becoming a Magicians Apprentice.
The Night of the Rabbit is a traditional adventure game, you’ll find no logic puzzles here, and the game relies on the age-old combination puzzles of yore, this does mean that you will need to engage your adventure game logic or you may find yourself stuck on occasion when you don’t feel that a certain ‘puzzle’ is clear, however Night of the Rabbit does do a pretty good job at giving you a relatively contained inventory so you won’t be dragging along everything including the kitchen sink when you aren’t sure what to do with what little you have, and so you'll find plenty of 'ah ha!' moments that make good adventure games so enjoyable.
The forest of Mousewood is not particularly large and thankfully you’ll have learnt it like the back of your hand within the first hour of so, however it is not the full extent of your journey, and in order to become a true Magician you must become a Treewalker and journey through the four magical portal trees of Mousewood. Trees whose roots stretch down so deep that they extend into other worlds, you must use these tree portals to cross through to other worlds, worlds that have no cultural boundaries with both Eastern and Western mythology creeping in. Unfortunately these worlds are very small in scope compared to the likes of Mousewood.
When you do become a fully fledged Treewalker and begin your journey to Magicians Apprentice you'll learn a series of spells along the way, these are utilised throughout the game, and act as solutions to many a puzzle; for instance littered around Mousewood are small stone statues, these hold secrets and stories that you can glean by whispering to the rocks with a spell, or there's the last resort, that last Glimmer of Hope that will help Jeremiah see anything through to the end, thankfully the spells are not overused, and add a great aspect to the usual combination puzzles.
When you’re on your way to becoming a Magicians Apprentice you’ll hit a point in the game that feels as though The Night of the Rabbit has all the potential for an open world adventure game; along your journey there are neat little collectibles to source such as stickers, water drops and audio books that unlock some nice bonus materials. You’ll also learn Quartets -the equivalent of Go Fish- from the Marquis de Hoto for which you can challenge many of the inhabitants of Mousewood at. Half way through you'll also gain the ability to switch from night to day and vice-versa by sitting down with a good book or having a rest. These touches add a great deal for the completionist inside you, and whilst it's not necessary to progress having collected all of the audio books, it enrichens the world that Jeremiah finds himself in.
If you're looking for a magical journey akin to a traditional childrens story, The Night of the Rabbit is charming, innocent and not afraid to get a little sinister, there's even a magical showdown! It does have somewhat of a saccharine happy ending, but what doesn't these days? The game does have its small faults which I can't mention for spoiler reasons -but I can say that the ending does disappoint somewhat-, though it is bound to make you warm and fuzzy on plenty of occasions.
The Night of the Rabbit is available now from all good digital distribution sites for the SRP of £16.99, however if you wish to own the glorious soundtrack and audio book then there's a special digital edition that you can splash out on for £19.99.