If you’re into Hidden Object games the name Artifex Mundi will ring a whole cathedral full of bells. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting as each game generally follows a much loved and reliable formula. From the moment Artifex announced My Brother Rabbit it was clear this release was going to be a little different. Combining hand painted environments, beautiful music and a story right out of a child’s imagination, My Brother Rabbit is worth a much closer look.
Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? For us the Hidden Object genre never gets old but like a dusty snow globe it does need the occasional shake up. Gone are the separate Hidden Object scenes, and in their place is the entire game itself. To progress through the story and from one environment to another you will need to solve a completely interlinked series of puzzles. You may find a locked door, a machine that doesn’t work or maybe an item that needs to be rebuilt. You might even find all these things in the same area and one can’t be solved with first solving a different puzzle. How do you solve these puzzles? By finding objects! Hurrah!
You may need to fix a lift to take you up to the next screen but you won’t be able to that without finding a whole heap of stamps. Once you’ve got the stamps, a further conundrum will rear its head and to actually fix the lift you’ll need to fathom out the new puzzle. Sounds simple, right? Well sometimes it is a breeze and other times you’ll stare at the telly for so long the family will think you’ve gone to sleep with your eyes open.
One of the admirable qualities of My Brother Rabbit is its lack of dialogue and very few moments of handholding. Aside from the opening moments, you’re on your own. Some puzzles are obvious in their design and quite a few you will have come across before in your gaming travels, but some are quite obscure and half the challenge is working out what on earth you are supposed to be doing. The puzzle with the stamps turned out to be quite easy but I say that only after me and a friend spent twenty minutes and two coffees trying to work out where to stick each stamp (we’ll ignore the one caffeine-fuelled X-rated suggestion).
My Brother Rabbit is a relaxing game with a good mixture of easy and more challenging puzzles. It’s very child friendly so this is a game you can enjoy with the kids. There’s no hint function to help you along, however. The only help you get are icons at the top of the screen telling you what items you’re looking for, how many you need and have, and whether or not they are present on your current screen. This is not a game you’ll want to blow through anyway. The art-style is beautiful and strangely deep in its depiction of a child’s imagination. The whole game is a representation of a child’s escape from the reality of a seriously ill sibling. This is how he copes and helps his sister to cope through the ordeal and if you look closely many of the objects and environments are not as random as they may initially seem. For example, the Salvador Dali style melted clocks are a pleasing oddity but alongside many other clocks in one of the scenes this also seems to suggest a feeling of time running out or perhaps a need to stop time or even wind it forward. Anyone who’s ever spent time in a hospital with a critically ill loved one will know how time itself can feel like a monstrous shadow. How does time feel to a child? How does having a critically ill loved one feel to a child? My Brother Rabbit tries to answer that question and does it well with no dialogue, abstract environments and a storybook style adventure.
Start to finish there’s around 5-7 hours of gameplay. Once you’ve completed the game there is a chapter select option if you want to go back and replay different scenes. This is brilliant if you’re planning to go for the easy platinum. The only complaint I have about the trophies is that if you look at the list before playing you’ll spoil the end of the story. Bad, trophy, naughty! Most trophies are unlocked through natural progression, but a few will require you to click particular items or do an activity in a certain way. These are missable and will required the use of the chapter select to go back.
I can’t end things without a very quick word about the sound. As I’ve said, there’s no dialogue or reading so your only companion is the music and sound effects of the world around your dungaree-wearing rabbit. It’s so chilled. The music never overwhelms and is clever in the way that it builds and then fades allowing the sounds of birds, running water, a thunder storm and just life to come through. The scenes with the clocks has a ticking style of percussion that fits so well and some of the puzzles build up sound with every correct piece placed. Most beautiful of all is the game’s lullaby theme. Dreams by Arkadiusz Reikowski featuring Emi Evans is a gorgeous piece of music. Look it up on YouTube. I’ve been singing it to my dog, although I admit I’ve somewhat butchered it due to my god-awful singing voice and unfamiliarity with the language. I’m very pleased that it’s not in English, though, as in my own colourful and wistful imagination it is a fairy language from a land beyond.
With its gorgeous graphical style and beautiful music, My Brother Rabbit is one of the most engaging puzzlers we’ve played in recent years. An unforgettable and expressive experience and well worth its full price.
S J Hollis Rating – 9/10
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