The guys and gals over at Daedalic Entertainment have a fondness for point and click adventures. With the Memoria and Deponia games under their belt, their next clickety creation is entitled The Night of the Rabbit. A whimsical story that would not look strange alongside Roald Dahl books, you play as Jerry Hazelnut who dreams to be a wizard. With two days left of summer vacation before school begins, young Jerry sets off to find himself some adventure and perhaps some magic along the way.
As the title suggests, rabbits and other animals are involved; a cross between The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down without the myxomatosis. The game begins with a rather ominous meeting between a smartly dressed white rabbit and a strange scarecrow figure. There will be a journey that the rabbit will take, but where will it begin? The scene changes to that of Jerry, surrounded by lush visual beauty. It’s difficult to avoid the comparison between this and Ni No Kuni, as the artistic direction is in the same vein. A portable radio chirps into life, informing you that “Everything is one click!” and how so much clicking action is great for morning calisthenics, which in turn is the player’s tutorial. The radio DJ seems to know your exact surroundings which is slightly creepy, later revealing his identity as Ludwig the Burrower with a waterlogged radio transmitter. A jobless mole that has stalker tendencies, just when you think you’ve seen it all. “Crack a nut, squirrel.. as I used to say!” Thanks for the advice chum.
As one would expect, there are puzzles to be puzzling with and although generally it is a case of simple item collection and combination, it can be difficult to find. An example of this is the first quest of collecting Blackberries to make Blackberry Pie for dear old Mother. The distinction between an inventory object and the scenery is nigh on impossible to distinguish. My pixel hunt for a wooden stick to defeat a bramble bush took longer than it should, and ultimately I resorted to mouse hovering over every inch of the game until a hotspot appeared. Fortunately, the simmering frustration never boils over as you are later equipped with a magical coin that can reveal all clickable objects within the game. The downside to this, is that you will automagically hit the spacebar to reveal what is around you, taking away the fun of actually looking for yourself to avoid the above problem. There are however nice moments of cranial light bulbs illuminating in unison when a puzzle is solved, with the help of your rabbity friend Marquis de Hoto. As an apprentice Treewalker, tree portals are used to travel to different worlds beyond Mousewood, adding an extra explorative facet to your average adventure puzzle game.
The developing narrative is slowly introduced, with encouragement to talk to everyone and giving your left mouse button thorough use. Treat this as a long children’s bedtime story, which requires time and patience to follow through. The many conversations you hold with the characters around you attempt to draw you into their world, but some can be lengthy… a Broken Sword in a coma. As a fan of point and click adventures I’m all for deep narrative, but some in The Night of the Rabbit holds me back so much that I am desperate to push on, breaking the chains of superfluous conversation. There are other slight problems, with background characters with repeatable phrases talking over Jerry as he describes his surroundings. As this is a preview build, I am sure that these will be refined.
Old school adventure enthusiasts will lap this up; with the quaint English setting and traditional accents, The Night of the Rabbit will have a familiar fondness that one can expect from this genre. Not everything will be so sprightly as seen in this preview and there will be some terrible worldly dangers that only Jerry can conquer as the story develops. Best dust off that wizard hat and cloak you’ve been secretly hiding, when The Night of the Rabbit is released on 29th May.