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Friday, 1 May 2015

The Night of the Rabbit.

The Night of the Rabbit.

(Guest review by Reecey.)

With the recent patch for Broken Age (and let’s face it, it is a patch. It’s fixing the fact that half the game has been missing for over a year) I’m actually rather angry at all the people acting as though this is some kind of amazing return to form for adventure games as a genre.

Not necessarily because Broken Age is bad, that’s not my problem with it, but more on behalf of Daedalic Entertainment, a company that has been making some of the best games in the genre within budget and without having to split them down the middle for years.

A fine example of the good work they’ve been doing is this game, The Night of the Rabbit.

The first thing you’ll notice about it is that it is absolutely gorgeous.

The environments, the characters, the items, everything is wonderful to look at. All well designed and beautifully presented.

The second thing you’ll likely notice is the fantastic voice acting. There isn’t a badly voiced character in the game.

The third thing is the pretty music, and with all the aesthetic concerns out of the way, it’s time to talk about the story.

I genuinely think it’s one of the best paced and foreshadowed video game stories I’ve ever come across.

It has its mysteries and its twists, but it’s all well paced and you’re never left feeling as though any of it has come out of nowhere.

One of my favourite examples of this is the protagonist’s family. Even though the situation they’re in at the beginning of the game is unnatural for them, it’s not treated as such. The game doesn’t have Jerry Hazelnut bemoan his situation or feel as though there’s something wrong with it. He’s perfectly content and that’s the great strength of this part of the story.

It would have been so easy to go down that road, but they didn’t.

Jerry Hazelnut is just a normal twelve year old boy with an active imagination who wants to be a magician.

His wish is granted when a mysterious flying letter arrives for him containing the instructions for a spell. Upon finishing it he meets his mentor, a dapper white rabbit/magician called the Marquis de Hoto.

For a lot of the game, adventurous music plays in the background while you talk to him, even if you’re just talking to him for advice in regular gameplay. He’s just that kind of guy.

With a Doctor-like promise to return before tea that evening, he whisks Jerry off to the magical world of Mousewood, where animals talk, wear clothes and have civic planning.

They also have a problem with crows attacking.

With this as his backdrop, Jerry has a series of tasks to do for the Treetop Festival, a celebration held when a magician takes a new apprentice.

Along with Mousewood and Jerry’s own world, there are three other worlds, and after he’s finished preparations for the festival, he must return to his own world and visit the three others in order to learn spells, do good deeds, and become a proper magician.

However, besides the crow problem, there’s something sinister afoot as travelling between the worlds and helping various characters show glimpses of a strange figure and raise questions about the Marquis and his intentions.

One of the other good things about this game is that there are items that have multiple uses as well as there being a few items that you can hold onto for a ridiculously long time in before they become useful.

One of my favourites is the rosehips that Jerry picks up at the very beginning of the game. He’ll remark that they’re cool, but kind of useless for most of the game, but they become useful just before the end.

There’s also a magical coin item that allows you to see all of the things that you can interact with, which helps to prevent pixel hunting.

However, despite all of this, there are still occasions where what you need to interact with are hard to spot and the classic adventure game problem of having no idea what the developer wanted from you rears its head.

To be fair though, these do happen rarely. They are also perennial problems in the genre.

None in this game are as bad as the one time you need to use the right mouse button to click on something in Broken Sword despite never having to do it before or after, so there is that.

The interface carries on from the progression started in Edna and Harvey: The Breakout and has refined it to the point of near perfection. This allows the whole screen to show you the beautiful visuals without cluttering it up with any interface. It all works in a seamless and very elegant manner.

So, if you fancy a coming of age story with mystery and wonder, you can hardly do better than The Night of the Rabbit. Especially since it’s got a really fun little card minigame in it and some extra audio book stories included for fleshing out the adorable world of Mousewood.

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