My Brother Rabbit
A girl is hospitalized with a serious illness. As the family nervously waits for answers, her brother uses a stuffed rabbit to fabricate a colorful imaginary world to help his sister take her mind off of the situation.
My Brother Rabbit is an adventure game that successfully melds the tenderness of life with the power of imagination to create a beautiful and touching journey that unfolds through kaleidoscopic landscapes filled with puzzles and seek-and-find challenges. The world the children dream up is gorgeous, looking like a mashup of Salvador Dalí, Kit Williams, and Bill Peet. In one environment, the eye can bounce between pastel-colored creatures, a giant melting clock, and a rock face littered with ordinary objects. Depending on what is happening in the story, the imagery morphs to hint at the illness or treatments. The art and story are the driving forces, but the gameplay isn’t too far behind.
The beauty of the world is important, as players spend most of their time looking at still-frame images to find carefully hidden objects of interest. Clicking on an object may lead to the revelation of a puzzle, or introduce a mission to find a specific number of one particular item. While I appreciate that nothing in the world is clearly indicated as something you can interact with, the randomness of what is there sometimes makes you click on everything until you are given a task. Once you are put on your way, the needless clicking subsides, as you are usually looking for things like water to make a plant grow, or ladybugs needed as pieces in a puzzle.
Given how well objects are hidden, I was often in positions where I needed to find just one more thing. This can lead to frustration, especially if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. Most times the game is specific in its requests, but on a few occasions I was tasked to find a shape that could be any form or color. This is where I found myself starring hopelessly at the screen, hoping the answer would jump out. I even resorted to rapidly clicking across the image to hopefully uncover something I clearly wasn’t seeing.
Once you find what you need, a puzzle usually awaits. No two puzzles are the same, and all demand different logic and input. For instance, the colored shapes must be assembled in a specific way to occupy an entire blank space, whereas the ladybugs present a number-based challenge in which they need to be lined up in certain way. I love that the game puts your brain through a wringer, but should you struggle with one, you don’t have a hint system or help tool (unlike Artifex Mundi’s dozens of other similarly designed adventure games). I banged my head against the wall during a rotating ring puzzle, and only stumbled upon the solution through dumb luck. None of the puzzles are truly difficult, though, and it’s only a matter of time before the solution is achieved.
My Brother Rabbit consists of five chapters of puzzle and seek-and-find fun. Each chapter is bookended with silent storyboard sequences that tell the family’s story. As short as these clips are, they carry an emotional punch, and make you feel like you’re in the hospital’s lobby, hoping for good news. Finding a path through the children’s fantasy world is the hook, but even as the visuals try to steal away your attention, you can’t help but think about what may be coming next for the daughter. This is one adventure you’ll want to see through to the end, even if the seek-and-fun gameplay can get a little irritating.
Artifex Mundi's latest adventure game is heartfelt, challenging, and beautiful.