Check out our My Brother Rabbit PAX West experience here!
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with our PAX coverage, Artifex Mundi was one of my favourite stops of the weekend, and My Brother Rabbit was one of the games that I walked away knowing I needed to experience more of. It can be difficult, as an adult, to truly recapture the magic of childhood. Even when things are fine, sometimes the drudgery of meetings, classes, and all the other odds and ends of adulthood can leave a dreary spin on things. That’s the kind of mood I was in when I decided to start playing Artifex Mundi’s My Brother Rabbit, and I was immediately glad I did.
My Brother Rabbit begins with a young boy and his little sister, who soon becomes very ill. While the “true” story is told in gorgeously drawn artwork between levels, what the player actually gets to explore is a surreal world mirroring the story. That’s where the magic comes in, as the siblings cope with the fear and uncertainty surrounding them, by way of imagination.
A lot of media tries to recreate the innocence of childhood. Some succeed, but so many simply come off awkward or too sugarcoated. My Brother Rabbit does exactly what it sets out to – it whimsically recaptures the magic of childhood (a time when swingsets are castles and every corner holds a new secret), and leaves the player in a fascinating world. Most impressively, it does so with a storyline that is truly moving and, at times, heartbreaking. As the children conjure a wildly creative re-imagining of their experience in order to cope, the player is treated to a variety of both dreary and stunning landscapes – wilting gardens, desert islands, and ocean treehouses await them as they help their new rabbit friend make his way through. There’s a lot of both hope and sadness hidden throughout the world, as you continue to meet creatures and problem-solve.
Players have five different “stages,” though each stage has several parts to it. Nearly everything is interactive, though the pieces don’t always fully come together until later on. Your first goal is to find something that needs to be done – a cloth to cut or a ladder to build – and begin looking for the materials you need for that. As you continue exploring each stage, you’ll find more and more that you can gather, and once you’ve got enough of an item, you’ll unlock the puzzle associated with it. Puzzles come in all different types, including matching games, piecing together torn drawings, and figuring out what order colours should go in. No two puzzles are the same, giving the player a fresh experience every time. There’s always something new to decipher.
At first, I was a little frustrated with how long one of the stages took to figure out. I spent several minutes searching for one last item, checking everywhere I could think of. But then when I spotted it, I was kind of amazed at how cleverly it was placed – My Brother Rabbit makes use of every area, and cleverly hides solutions in some amazing places. Players will have to remember to leave no stone unturned as they search – the whole world matters. Ruffle through cabinets, try to use everything, look for clues in the most unsuspecting of places. By the third stage, I was checking every detail, and loving every moment of it.
One of the game’s most charming features is its lack of words. You might not notice this absence, if you don’t go in already knowing to expect it, but My Brother Rabbit’s story is told through art and gameplay, with almost no instructions being written out. Behind the game was a conscious decision to create something which could be understood by anyone – you won’t find heavy exposition and dialogue here. My Brother Rabbit is universally playable, no matter who you are or what you speak. Aside from just being inclusive, this also lets the player really focus on other features of the game, such as a beautiful soundtrack and whimsical artwork. In a way, it’s perfect – the point of My Brother Rabbit isn’t to have every moment and imagining explained. My Brother Rabbit is about recapturing magic. It’s about the innocence of childhood, and the beauty behind how children see the world around them. It’s something you need to just jump into and explore.
I’m not even sure there are words for how much I loved both the art and the music – My Brother Rabbit was certainly an experience. There’s a lot of love and care behind the game that I think will be obvious to anyone lucky enough to play it. I hope that my very first 100% rating speaks for itself here. I fell in love.
At the end of the day, the only change I wanted to see was to have more. Even playing casually, My Brother Rabbit took only about five and a half hours. But it’s also a stunningly well-crafted game, and one I intend to play again someday. It was honestly a magical experience, and even though I hadn’t intended to spend the entire day lost in it, the experience was lovely and exactly what I needed to lift my spirits during a difficult weekend.
If you already like point and click puzzle adventures, this is definitely a must-play. But it’s also just a lovely, immersive experience for anyone who wants to explore a little more magic in the world.
My Brother Rabbit comes to PC, mac, and consoles on September 21st, 2018.