While there may be some other fantastic titles out there, Germany really does seem to be the force that is keeping point and click adventure games alive. Daedalic Entertainment is at the forefront releasing games at what I would swear is a per month basis, but is actually at a much more sensible pace. They released three games in 2012 and 2013 stands ready to see as many as five. The Night of the Rabbit eschews the more serious fantasy of The Dark Eye and the dark humor of Edna & Harvey and Deponia for a more whimsical adventure about a boy who wants to be a magician during the final days of summer vacation.
For most of us, summer vacation is that ethereal concept that only exists is our dreams. That wonderful time when you had time to do whatever you want and explore your world. The Night of the Rabbit skirts the line of hamfisted, but does an excellent job of capturing that magical time through the eyes of Jerry Hazelnut. Jerry has dreams of being a magician and going on a great adventure and thanks to a mysterious letter he receives on the second to last day of summer vacation, he gets his chance.
The Night of the Rabbit walks several fine lines. The plot itself could have been another generic summer tale meant for children, but the writers managed to put in just enough intrigue to make what looks like a children’s game fun for adults. The final act adds plenty of darkness without sacrificing the childlike wonder the rest of the game worked so hard to instil. I ended up enjoying the plot and world so much that I would happily play a sequel.
As with any point and click adventure game, as compelling as the plot may be, it doesn’t matter unless the puzzles are good, since that’s what you’ll actually be doing for most of the game. I’m not sure why, but Daedalic took a huge step back in puzzle design here. Quite often I would find myself wandering around, without any idea of what I was supposed to do next. The hint system in the game is borderline useless, so I was left to try everything possible. Not the most fun way to play the game.
In spite of that, I still had a good time overall with The Night of the Rabbit. Most of the puzzles were actually quite intuitive and fun to solve, there were just several that did nothing but delay the rest of the game. The character and background designs are some of the best the studio has put out, but the smaller team and budget compared to bigger games shows in the animation. They push so hard with what they have, you can’t help but admire them.
I have always and will always love the way point and click adventure games play and unfold, but there is nothing about the years of innovation and technology that can get rid of the genre’s core issues. The plot and world of The Night of the Rabbit was so wonderful to experience and I do hope that we get another entry, but it doesn’t overcome the seemingly obtuse nature of several of the puzzles. There still is plenty of game worth experiencing, but it comes in spite of the time you’ll be spending either looking at a guide or banging your head against the wall in frustration.