PlusMana thanks the developer of Rabbit Story, Viacheslav Bushuev, for inviting us to review the game.
Rabbit Story is a funny game. Not funny as in “ha ha”, because Rabbit Story very much the opposite of that. It’s a game that looks cartoonish, and is very charming, but one with a surprisingly mature story at its center. It’s not the most innovative or engaging game, but it’s a game that I kept thinking about after I finished playing it.
Relationships are Hard
At its core, Rabbit Story is a game about relationships, and the complexities of them. Naturally, you play as a rabbit named, well, Rabbit. Rabbit forgets his friend (possibly girlfriend) Kitty’s birthday, and apparently, that’s too much for her, and she abruptly leaves their shared home. This hits Rabbit really hard, but some time later, Rabbit meets a new friend, Doggy. Some time later Kitty reappears in his life, and things go from there. Rabbit Story is a game focused on how these two different relationships have affected Rabbit.
For a game as cartoonish-looking as Rabbit Story this is a very mature story. And for the most part, I was pretty compelled by it. It definitely has its flaws, and most of that comes from a lack of story development in certain situations. Some moments just come and go abruptly, that the full impact isn’t truly felt. Maybe this is a reflection on how relationships can just end on a whim, but still, for a narrative-driven game, a bit more clarity would have been nice. This is most evident in the ending, where I something major happens (I won’t spoil it), but there is no true context as to why or how it took place. It’s hinted at, sure, but I would’ve loved to see how the other characters involved in said event fit in to it all.
More than Meets the Eye
As I mentioned, Rabbit Story is short. The game is divided into “episodes”, some of which only took me a few minutes to complete. It’s a very easy game to finish, and one that is very easy to play. It’s completely feasible (and maybe even likely) to finish this game in one sitting. Rabbit Story is pitched as a game that is “simple in controls and appealing to the feelings”. This is a very apt description. The main (and save for a few moments, only) gameplay is clicking or dragging the mouse wherever you want to control Rabbit. That’s it. The gameplay is so simplistic that sometimes it felt like I would rather just watch the story unfold as a movie rather than control the action. But then again, maybe part of reason I became so invested was because of the interactivity.
Besides the main game, there are two “minigames” that are meant to be distractions from the events at hand. One, a video game within a video game, was fun, if harmless. The other (seen in the promotional items), involving you fighting ghosts, is less successful. For me, it was just to much of an abrupt change of pace, and honestly, I found it very hard to control. Unfortunately, though, the latter minigame is the one that is more central to the story, and as such, appears more. It’s a shame, because both times I had to face the ghosts, it really took me out of the story.
Compelling All the Way Through
For a game that was made primarily by one person (Viacheslav Bushuev), Rabbit Story’s technical feats are impressive. The game, powered by Unreal Engine 4, is a very pretty game. No, the graphics aren’t going to set the world on fire, but the stylized world created fits perfectly in the world that was created. It also has a surprising amount of depth and scope, although a noticeable blur sadly took me out of the experience occasionally. Although, again, considering this was made by one person, it’s still impressive nonetheless. The game world itself seemed a little too big and empty, with there being some unnecessary wandering invovled. But considering this is a game about loneliness, it didn’t feel out of place, either.
The character models are also nice, albeit nothing groundbreaking. The characters have a bit of a lifeless loom to them, which for me added to the “adorableness” of them. I mean, one of their names is Doggy. How much cuter can you get? The cuteness of the characters only helped contrast even more with the seriousness of the story presented.
The score of the game is fantastic. It really helps set the mood, and brings you in even more. It starts out somewhat upbeat, keeping in theme with this world, but it always has this unsettling undercurrent, which becomes more prevalent as the game goes on. The (seemingly) orchestrated score really helps accentuate the emotions of each scene you’re playing. It changes between happy, to upsetting, to downright scary at points. For me, the score is actually the highlight of Rabbit Story.
Looking at this review, it seems I’m being very critical of Rabbit Story. And maybe I am. The gameplay (which probably should be one of, if not the most important aspect of a video game) is almost too simple for its own good. It veers off into other gameplay segments that for the most part, don’t work. But Rabbit Story still had me hooked.
A game that, by its own admission, is a narrative-focused game, the (ahem) story of Rabbit Story is a very engaging one. A story that is heartbreaking and joyful, and has a constant undercurrent of devastation. It’s not the most innovative game on any front, but its one that stayed with me after I played it.
The story does suffer from pacing issues, but a visually impressive world and even more impressive score help you feel connected to the story despite that. At only about an hour playtime and at a cost lest than ten dollars, I would recommend Rabbit Story for anyone wanting a short game experience, in addition to one with an emotionally stirring story.
- Moving storyline that tugs at one's heartstrings
- Lovely musical and sound scores
- Very pretty game based off the Unreal Engine 4
- Some might find the gameplay a little 'too easy'