There are few better modern parallels for videogames than Alice In Wonderland, from which Night Of The Rabbit takes its clearest inspiration. The point-and-click genre, in particular, shares DNA with Carroll’s opus: the journey into a foreign, subverted world, and the tinkering with its rules and challenging of its rulers by an outside force that leads to its eventual upheaval and reinvention (or that of the protagonist).
Developer Daedalic Entertainment explored similar themes in its tonally confused The Whispered World, but here the effect is much closer to Carroll’s achievement, delivering a captivating world of words and wonder for younger players that should catch the eye – if not always the heart – of veteran genre fans too.
While Night Of The Rabbit is gorgeous, well-paced and often intriguing, it can be preachy and prolonged in its storytelling, giving the air of a bedtime story with its in-game cutscenes that can drag – as they did with The Whispered World – due to rather hammy voice-work and some lacklustre character animations and action which breaks the game-world’s spell. It’s disappointing to see the game potentially alienate a wider audience particularly because the rest of the title ticks over as smoothly as the hands of the White Rabbit’s clock: The more obscure, perplexing “show-piece” puzzles are spread appropriately far apart, the interface is clean and uncluttered and the story – regardless of its often awkward delivery – is worth persevering with, offering more of the deliciously dark denouements the studio is becoming known for.
If Daedalic can escape its own ghetto of sub-par voice work – seemingly the final hurdle in its race to fill the Lucasarts-shaped void in the point-and-click genre – then its next trip down the rabbit hole may be unmissable, rather than simply recommended.
Night of the Rabbit is out now on PC through Steam.