I’ve played some strange video games in my day. I’ve played games that had me dodging sharks. I’ve played games that had me creeping around in a nightmare. I’ve even played through Mass Effect 3’s ending, and that was probably the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced. Yet all these games pale in comparison to the surreal tonality and environment of The Night of the Rabbit. It’s a game that blends the cartoonish, childlike Winnie the Pooh with the purity and novelty of The Neverending Story. It allows you to live through and experience the strange intoxication of youth, a time when the world didn’t contain adventure, it was adventure made manifest.
The point-click interaction of the game keeps things light and easy, a boon to a game whose story features such depth and dreamlike qualities. After all, the game is about stories, and it does nothing to deter you from experiencing that story. The game’s tutorial is short enough that it doesn’t get boring, but long enough that if you don’t have a lot of experience with the style of game Rabbit represents, you’ll quickly get a handle for yourself.
Like most point-click games, Rabbit’s gameplay is based on the idea of puzzle solving. You have to make connections in an environment, like putting together ingredients or solving an equation. It’s not enough that you go and get berries; it’s enough that you pick up the stick lying on the ground and swipe away the spiders, allowing the protagonist to get at more berries. My complaint here is that I felt like the game wanted you to make some intuitive leaps that are almost impossible to make. And even if you did choose the item that you needed for a specific task, there’s likely an item you should’ve done something with before getting to that phase, meaning the item trying to use will be useless until you do things in the appropriate order. What this results in is a bunch of random clicking. It’s not pointless clicking, mind you, because the universe is well crafted and each item has some kind of story or tid bit of information that adds to the flavor of the world . It’s still desperate clicking, though, hoping against hope that if you click on enough stuff the puzzle will magically resolve itself.
The game’s story is very well done. I want to define that statement a little, though. The story isn’t very deep and it’s probably not going to leave a lasting mark on you. Still, it’s an unremarkable story that’s done exceptionally well. As I played through the game, I found myself enjoying the flair of the scenery, the neat little universe, and the foreboding sense of some darkness right around the corner. Combined with excellent pacing, assuming you don’t get hung up on too many puzzles, I felt like the story deserves a good nod.
Full disclosure: I do not like point-click style games. I never have, not even when I was a kid. It’s not just the absence of action, but rather the reliance on puzzles that turns me off to the genre. Puzzles take too long and I prefer to beat my problems with a hammer (I am not a clever man). That being said, as far as the point-click genre goes, Rabbit is a solid showing. The game is beautiful and remarkably tasteful; its appearance captures the purity of youth in a way that few games can match. I really did think of Winnie the Pooh when the game booted up, and I think that kind of connection is awesome. The game’s story is just dark enough to defamiliarize yourself with the days of your summer youth, but not quite dark enough smudge that innocence out.
With its stunning aesthetic appeal and well constructed universe, I can let go of my hatred for puzzles long enough to believe, firmly, that the game deserves an 8.0.