Artifex Mundi are well known for their publishing and development of Hidden Object Games (HOGs) on pretty much every platform under the sun from mobiles to consoles. My Brother Rabbit is a side step from the usual as they present us with an absolutely stunning and emotional journey through a mixture of point-and-click, puzzles and a non-verbal story which is bound to touch everyone who plays it.
My Brother Rabbit is out tomorrow (21st September 2018) on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC – The below will be spoiler free and I hope it persuades you to pick up the game and try it out when it launches.
The story of My brother Rabbit is a story about love, pain, determination and a child’s imagination. Playing this actually reminded me a little of The Gardens Between, which I reviewed yesterday, as you aren’t actually playing the game based in the real world, you’re seeing the game as the fantastical worlds which the children have created instead.
Sadly, a young girl has fallen ill and has been rushed off to the hospital by her loving family. Seeing the pain and suffering the girl is going through, her older brother places a stuffed toy, a rather derpy looking rabbit, by her side. He begins to use his imagination to keep his sister relaxed and to keep the both of them protected from what’s actually happening in the real world. Through the power of his imagination, and the beautiful artwork by Artifex Mundi, you must embark on an exciting and emotional journey as you help save a young, sick flower whilst protecting it from all diseases and hoping it will eventually regain its health and strength.
HOG or PaC?
My Brother Rabbit is an interesting take on the Hidden Object genre as it mixes both HOGs with a point-and-click adventure game. You’re no longer taken to a scene where you must find items which are listed on the bottom of the screen, you’re looking for items scattered throughout all the scenes available to you within the level you are currently at. This mechanic is rather simplistic and ultimately a lot easier than games in either the HOG or Point-and-click genres, but Artifex Mundi have managed to present it in such a beautiful and emotional way. I literally didn’t stop playing it until I had completed the game, four hours after starting it up.
As the entire game is basically an expanded hide-and-seek game, there are a few mechanics which help you out as you traverse through this delightful game. Whilst navigating around the various screens (using the D-pad or clicking the sides of the screen), you’ll see various doors, items, locks, etc… which have a small white butterfly upon them. Clicking these will begin a ‘fetch quest’ in the top right-hand corner of the screen. For example, the first one you’ll see is your ladder out of your Rabbit Hole. The ladder is half completed and you can’t get out – thus the quest to find some new rungs for the ladder begins. An icon remains in the top right which you can obtain info on by holding R2 – this shows you what the pieces are used on, in case you forget.
However, one of the nice things about the icon in the corner is that it goes grey if said item isn’t on the screen you’re on. Sure, it makes it a lot easier as you can move about and know exactly when you should be looking and when you can stop – but I personally just think that makes the game more accessible to people of all ages and skill levels. This also helps when you have three or four quests on the go at the same time. Each one will have an icon in the corner and each one independently lights up when there is something on the screen. Not everything is obtainable right away though, as some of the items (even if they are coloured in and not grey) are locked behind one of the many…
At first, I wasn’t that impressed with the puzzles within My Brother Rabbit as the first one is a standard puzzle within Artifex Mundi titles – you have a few coloured cogs and you have to connect the two colours by strings without touching another one. This puzzle has been used in almost every single HOG I can remember. It’s slightly different this time in that you needed to complete a finding quest to find all of the strings first – which was fun, but the puzzle itself was an initial let down. However, after that all of the other puzzles were different. I don’t recall seeing any puzzles which have featured in previous games from the developer. Don’t get me wrong though, that first puzzle isn’t bad as such, it just made me think the game was going to be a re-skinned HOG, which it isn’t.
As you progress through the five magical levels, you’ll notice the game has a nice balance of finding things, standard puzzles and environmental puzzles. They all seamlessly link together as well. As above, you’ll come across a puzzle which starts a finding mission. Whilst looking for the items you may have to interact with the environment by moving things or operating various items so that you can find the things you need. Once you have them all, you can return to the point of origin in order to complete the puzzle.
As a veteran Artifex Mundi gamer, none of the puzzles or situations got the better of me – other than the colour wheel puzzle! That puzzle had me stuck for at least 15-20 minutes! Saying that, the puzzles aren’t hard but some do require a little bit of thinking as, unlike their previous games, you have no hints within the puzzles and no skip option. I thought it was great that there was no option to skip – until I had to replay the colour wheel to get a trophy I missed! *grumble grumble* – However, I still agree the ‘no-skip’ option was the best way to go.
Visually, My Brother Rabbit is stunning. Sure, it’s not got realistic graphics like Shadow of the Tomb Raider or nice and clean 3D visuals like in Punch Line, but the hand-drawn assets are by far the most visually beautiful images I’ve seen on the PS4 to date. Artifex Mundi are well known for their gorgeous backdrops and artwork, but My Brother Rabbit goes above and beyond anything previously. Every single scene is like a painting, each with their own stories to tell and secrets to hide. The other thing I loved about the visuals was how the interactive objects blended into the surroundings. Usually, in HOG style games, the usable or collectable items will stand out like a sore thumb among the artistic backdrops, in this game everything looks just as detailed as each other.
Soundwise it’s easy – My Brother Rabbit has no vocals so it gets a negative 5 points from me… I’m joking! I mentioned this in my The Gardens Between review, but any game which manages to deliver a story without vocals or text is a game a lot of developers should be envious of. My Brother Rabbit does not disappoint, with it’s between chapter ‘cutscenes’ and artistic representations of what’s happening in the real life, the story is delivered to you perfectly. This is amplified infinitely by the awesome soundtrack we get throughout the game. Even if you just played the music and closed your eyes, you would become just as emotional as you do whilst playing the game.
Not only that, the full soundtrack was composed by Arkadiusz Reikowski, the talented musician behind games such as Layers of Fear, Kholat, Husk, and >observer_. The title song, Dreams, is also by Arkadiusz Reikowski yet features the vocal talent of Emi Evans, who has also appeared in the NiER: Automata and Dark Souls soundtracks. You can obtain “Dreams” for free here: https://arkadiuszreikowski.bandcamp.com/ or over on youtube here:
I personally really enjoyed playing through My Brother Rabbit. In total, it took me around four hours to complete it the first time and about one to two hours to go back and find the missing trophies, as there are quite a few you can easily miss if you weren’t aware of what to look out for. However, for the trophy hunters out there, there is a level select so you can easily go back and forth if you miss anything and the game is completable in one sitting if you keep in mind what requires a trophy. I was really impressed with the number of puzzles and random things you can click on throughout the five levels – sure, the puzzles weren’t too difficult (damn colour wheel!) but it didn’t slow down the pacing of the game or frustrate me to the point where I didn’t want to play anymore. I wanted to carry on and see if we could cure this little flower!
If you think about things, take in the cutscenes and look around yourself at the small environmental details, you’ll see the real world peering through into the imagination realm. Are you really trying to save a flower who became depressed and ill once she came into contact with some evil-looking purple blobs, or is it your sister who has caught a virus? Are you trying to administer a futuristic gas upon said flower in order to quarantine it and kill off as many of the blobs as possible, or are you comforting your sister whilst the doctors are performing their duties trying to heal her?
I imagine that to young kids, this is a cute game about a rabbit trying to take his poorly flower to various people across the land as he aims to revive it and make it happy again. To older kids and adults, I’m sure you’ll easily see the double meaning at play here. You’ll also see the emotional journey this young kid is going through just to keep his sister safe and happy within the imaginary world he created for them both to hide in, away from the real world. I imagine this will be a great game to play with your kids as well.
My Brother Rabbit is a beautiful masterpiece which everyone who has ever cared about an ill loved one should play. Instead of being a realistic game about a boy and his sister, we are presented with the fantastical imagination of the two innocent children as they deal with the pain and sadness of the girl as she lays on her hospital bed. The visuals are gorgeous, the music is full of emotion and the overall story really tugs at your heartstrings. This is by far the most emotional and touching game Artifex Mundi has created to date and the simplistic gameplay mechanics ensure that the game is accessible and enjoyable by everyone.
I imagine a lot of trophy hunters will pick this up for the easy Platinum, but I also strongly urge everyone to pick up this game if you enjoy puzzle games, casual games, emotional non-verbal narratives and even those who just want a nice game to play with their kids. Me and Derp (below) can’t recommend the game enough…
My Brother Rabbit
- Stunning artwork - so colourful and bold!
- The soundtrack is full of emotion and a perfect companion to the visuals
- An interesting take on the genre as most puzzles require you to find the required items before you can start to solve them
- The fact you can fully understand the story with no verbal or written narrative is great
- Every puzzle is different with plenty to work through
- Some puzzles may be a bit tricky for younger children
- People who have played all of the Artifex Mundi games previously may find most of the puzzles a little too easy