The Night of the Rabbit (2013)

The Night of the Rabbit (2013), created, directed and written  by Matthias Kempke, developed and published by Daedalic Entertainment 

In theory, I should like Daedalic Entertainment's adventure games as they represent the style I always wanted point ' n' click adventure games to evolve into; high resolution, cartoon animated games, with a heavy story, characters and puzzles. Yet in practice, I always am left feeling either disliking them or just lukewarm at best. I either find them terrible or just something that is lacking some final piece that would make the game actually to work. The Night of the Rabbit is the latter kind of a game: something that is lacking the final touch that would really make it work.

Jerry Hazelnut is a young boy, trying to find an adventure during his last days of summer vacation. The boy, interested in magic, receives a mysterious set of instructions, that lead him to summon up Marquis De Hoto, a talking magical rabbit, who promises to teach him real magic. And thus begins Jerry's adventure to become a Treewalker, a true wizard, who can travel between realms.

Marquis takes Jerry to Mousewood, a place filled with talking mice, moles, frogs and even some dwarves. And magic. Let's not forget magic, despite there's actually very little magic in the game, but still, magic is what the story claims to be all about. There's just not that much of it and what there is, is pretty limited. Sure, there are magical, mystical things in the game, but the truth is, for a story that revolves around a boy becoming a real wizard, the story actually uses magic very sparsely. It's actually a couple of hours in the game before you even learn your first spell.

My biggest issues, and what really made me dislike the game, is the story. Not that it is necessarily a bad story, far from it as it does have some pretty interesting things in it, but more of how the story is told during the game. See, the thing is, there's a terrible amount of fluff in it. For a good while, the game feels like it's just making you do stuff in order to do stuff, not because it wants you to advance. And really, the best part of the story is actually told during the end movie, where it's told why you are actually doing what you are doing.  In contrast to that pretty nicely done narrative the rest of the game feels a bit too much like random pieces thrown in together hoping, that they'd fit together in some way or an another.

The second problem I had with the game really stems from the story, but also from how the game is paced and structured: it just allowed me to get bored. Despite all the nice visuals, a decent soundtrack and relatively nicely done voice acting, especially for a Daedalic game with English voice overs, the game bored me. It takes a long time, before the story and puzzles start to wind up the way, that they feel significant rather than just some random odd-jobs.

At its most interesting the Night of the Rabbit is only during the last part of the game. That's the moment when the narrative finds itself, but by then it already is a bit late, as there's a rest of the game in front of it. And when it gets really good, it happens during the end movie, but by then you are not playing it anymore, just watching why all happened.

The puzzles are mostly pretty simple,, with a couple of harder ones here and there. But what really bothers me is, that the puzzles most of the time really on pretty typical adventure game tropes instead of utilizing the theme of the story, which is magic. The puzzle where you actually get to use magic are few and far between and when you do encounter them, you solve them pretty much instantly, as they are pretty obvious.

The Night of the Rabbit is one of those games, that had a tremendous amount of potential, but in the end, what really kills it, is that it is overall a pretty lazy demonstration in game design. It could have been a lot more than it is, but it either didn't dare to try or it just didn't occur to anyone to try. In either case, it is a disappointing title, albeit relatively nice looking one.

If you want to become a magician apprentice, the Night of the Rabbit is available on GOG and Steam.