Point… and click
Point-and-Click adventure games have been with me since childhood and I have always said that all a Point-and-Click game really needs is a good story. The graphics don’t matter and neither do the controls. For those of us who truly, madly, deeply love the genre, all that matters is the story being told. That is why I still play Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars at least biannually, even though the game looks absolutely horrible on a 27” Full HD monitor. Daedalic Entertainment’s The Night of the Rabbit is a Point-and-Click adventure game that brings an intriguing story to life within a colourful, creative game world. The narrative design could have been done better though.
Rabbits, hares and bears
You are Jeremiah Hazelnut, a twelve year old boy who has been dreaming about being a magician his entire childhood. One day, after collecting some berries for your mother, a strange letter appears out of nowhere and ends up in your pocket. The letter contains detailed instructions about how to make something called “carrot flame.” Once Jerry has performed the rite to the letter’s specifications, a strange trunk appears. The trunk contains tools vital to the magician’s trade such as a top hat, a wand, and a small white rabbit who spontaneously transforms into a suit-wearing, walking, talking rabbit who offers Jerry an apprenticeship. Jerry can’t resist the opportunity to become a real magician, so he follows the white rabbit to learn the trade of a Treewalker.
The Marquis de Hoto, as the rabbit is known, leads Jerry on a quest that takes them to a magical world populated by talking animals, thieving leprechauns, mystical statues, and sinister characters. Some of the events and characters should tickle the familiarity nerve of our generation. The flying letter, for example, will cause any Harry Potter fan to smile and the grumpy hare whose garden is used as an after-hours gathering spot for the town’s population bears a resemblance to a familiar character from Winnie the Pooh, although this one wears clothing. The Marquis himself looks a bit like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. There are many interesting characters to meet and the story is sure to draw you into this strange and imaginative world.
The game is two dimensional and that style serves it well. I was one of those that argued for a return to two dimensionality when Monkey Island 4 and Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon took the genre’s first steps into full 3D to deplorable effect. Although most Point-and-Click games today are of the so-called 2.5D variety, this one is cartoony, flat, and absolutely adorable; a style that should be familiar to any fan of Deponia, Daedalic’s best known title. Whereas most games I have played in the past use hotspots in the corner or border of the screen to access the inventory, The Night of the Rabbit allows you to access it by pressing the “I” button on your keyboard (a method familiar to any Role-Playing game fan) or by scrolling the wheel on your mouse either up or down. After being taught to do so by the Marquis de Hoto, Jerry can also look through the hole on his magic coin to highlight any interactive objects in the scene. This is done by pressing the space bar on your keyboard.
There are still some bugs present in The Night of the Rabbit, such as character models not rendering correctly (instead being replaced by a black outline that moves in its stead). They break your suspension of disbelief, which is of vital importance in games whose selling point is the player’s complete immersion into the story. Its biggest problem, however, is its narrative design. Although the story is interesting, the characters colourful, and the art style intriguing, you are given too many quests at the same time.
Point-and-Click Adventures work best when you have one goal or one objective and are forced to jump through hoops to get there. Broken Sword, for instance, always has your attention focused on one thing at a time. In Mousewood, however, you are to prepare a festival. That one quest entails two things: Get the drinks and send out the invitations. Neither one is as easy as they sound and you soon find yourself on the hunt for envelopes, missing dwarves, frozen postmen, and magic stamps to name a few things. Here’s where the problem becomes severe, however. The game also throws a lot of elaborate side quests at you and you very soon become disoriented and forget which one to focus on. In addition, as with most adventure games, each quest contains a few objects that very soon fill up your inventory and the entire game is reduced to a case of trial and error with you clicking everything on everything else before giving up and throwing your mouse away in frustration. What once seemed like a happy place becomes a prison in which your patience is held captive.
I love point-and-click adventure games and I commend companies like Daedalic, TellTale, and King Art for keeping the genre alive. After Deponia’s rather positive reception, however, I expected more from Daedalic. The dialogue being rather childish is to be expected from a 12 year old protagonist and I’d consider this game aimed at the younger generation. That being said, the difficulty of juggling multiple quest lines simultaneously is not for the easily distracted, or the easily frustrated.
Imaginative world filled with interesting characters; an intriguing story.
Narrative design has you focusing on too many things at once; your inventory becomes cluttered with seemingly useless things; some visual bugs.