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The Night of the Rabbit Review: Magical Melancholy

Jerry meets a wizard who looks just like The Dude.

The Night of the Rabbit stands headstrong against the current in a world where video games tend to favor explosions and action sequences to uniquely atmospheric storytelling. Developed by Daedalic Entertainment, The Night of the Rabbit tells the tale of a young boy named Jerry Hazelnut who wants nothing more than a magical adventure as his summer vacation comes to a close. While The Night of the Rabbit’s point-and-click adventure design may feel archaic to some, Daedalic Entertainment’s brilliantly detailed world and heartfelt writing bring Jerry’s journey to life in a way that can’t help but make one smile.

Story

Jerry Hazelnut’s love for magic has him finding new friends and adventure in places even a twelve-year old couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams. As his summer vacation comes to a close, Jerry wistfully wishes to become a magician as great as those that he idolizes. Jerry’s dreams become a reality one morning, as he finds a strange note in the woods by his home that claim to be a recipe for a strange magical concoction. Without much hesitation, the young boy follows the note’s poetic instructions and soon winds up summoning a bipedal – and very well dressed – rabbit, named Marquis de Hotowho.

Marquis informs Jerry that he is a magician, and offers to take the boy on as an apprentice in order to teach him the magic he so badly wants to learn. Jerry’s acceptance of Marquis’ proposal is the first step in Jerry’s journey, and together they enter a portal to the land of Mousewood.

In Mousewood, Jerry finds himself surrounded by dozens of animals. Squirrels, hedgehogs, owls, and mice inhabit the quaint village, all of who are excited to make the acquaintance of the young boy and his magical mentor. Mousewood marks the starting location of Jerry’s quest to become the next Treewalker – the Mousewood name for magicians – and immediately sets upon learning the basics of magic.

As he begins to learn spells, Jerry comes to realize that not all is good and peaceful in the land of Mousewood. Nasty crows have begun to attack the town, weather patterns differ from the norm, and suspicious characters move into Mousewood’s walls. While Jerry progresses as a magician, the unusual occurrences surrounding Mousewood start to come to a head and the young apprentice must use every skill he has thus learned to save not only Mousewood, but his own world as well.

Delving further into the game’s story would be a massive disservice, as Daedalic’s narrative is the game’s greatest strength. The Night of the Rabbit manages to tell a story that wholly wraps the player up in its world, balancing perfect pacing and atmosphere with witty humor. Of special note, is the game’s final moments. The Night of the Rabbit’s tale comes to a close in a completely unforgettable manner. Every facet of the game’s narrative prior to the story’s culmination aligns perfectly, making for an ending that touches on each and every theme and ties them together without a single loose end.

Gameplay

Much of the time in Mousewood is spent solving various puzzles .Jerry can interact with almost everything he sees, taking various items and combining them to help solve the puzzles along the way. Each of The Night of the Rabbit’s puzzles are well-executed and walk the line between easy and challenging successfully throughout the entire game. As Jerry progresses along the path of the Treewalkers, he finds himself helping the various locals of Mousewood, aiding them in tasks that range from fetching fresh cups of coffee to catching thieving leprechauns.

Every task or puzzle that Jerry completes feels well thought out, making the endless amount encountered constantly enjoyable. While The Night of the Rabbit isn’t the longest game in existence, throughout the roughly seven hour main story, players will surely feel satisfied by the sheer quantity of puzzles to be solved.

Mousewood's hare population takes partying seriously.
Mousewood’s hare population takes partying seriously.

Graphics

The Night of the Rabbit is simply a beautiful game. Each area of the game’s world feels alive and fully realized. Colors are vibrant and add character to the 2D world. During Jerry’s quest, many unique locations are visited, each with their own color palette and feel, which serve to perfectly illustrate just how great the game looks. Mousewood is especially gorgeous, wandering through the town’s streets and experiencing the sights is a reward unto itself. There are sure to be more than a few instances when players of The Night of the Rabbit find themselves stopping simply to take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the scenery around Jerry.

Sound

The score contained within The Night of the Rabbit accompanies the game’s narrative in a way that few games in recent memory have been able to. At times the music is as cheery as the Mousewood residents while at others, the music takes on a sense of melancholy that oozes atmosphere.

Voice acting in the game suffers in some spots, specifically during Jerry’s dialogue. His tone sometimes falls flat, and doesn’t properly convey the emotion of certain scenes towards the end of the game. While the inconsistencies are few, they can serve to distance the player from the intended mood of the scene. For a game that does such a wonderful job of creating an exciting story, it is a shame that these flaws pop up during crucial moments in the narrative.

Final Thoughts

The Night of the Rabbit is a game that is only properly appreciated by playing through it. Few games in recent years have managed to create a story that brims with as much personality and atmosphere. The beautiful scenery and memorable score are applaudable as well, and when combined with the game’s top-notch writing, make The Night of the Rabbit one of the year’s biggest sleeper hits.

[schema type=”review” name=”The Night of the Rabbit | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Brilliant writing and plot pacing, Unforgettable scenery, Great music | The Not so Awesome: Voice acting suffers at crucial points” rev_name=”The Night of the Rabbit” rev_body=”The Night of the Rabbit is a game that is only properly appreciated by playing through it. Few games in recent years have managed to create a story that brims with as much personality and atmosphere.” author=”Ray Porreca” pubdate=”2013-06-09″ user_review=”8.5″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]

*The Author received The Night of the Rabbit courtesy of Evolve PR. The Night of the Rabbit is available on both PC and Mac. The PC version was used for this review.

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Raymond Porreca

The author Raymond Porreca

Raised on classic role-playing games, Ray's eternal quest for the next great game has led to him playing everything he can get his hands on. With a passion for every facet of the video game industry, Ray aims to keep readers informed and entertained with every word he writes.