Wherefor art thou, little glass bumblebee-thing?
No, seriously, where are you? I need to find four more of you to get to the next level.
My Brother Rabbit is the latest game from Polish developer Artifex Mundi, and boy oh boy. It’s something else.
The game begins with a series of stills, hand-drawn images showing a family with two young children, a boy and a girl. As the siblings are playing together looking at butterflies and flowers, the young girl is suddenly stricken with an unidentifiable illness. The next scene shows the girl sick in bed while her parents frantically watching over her.
Without warning, we’re thrust into the surreal realm of the children’s combined imagination. The star of the show is the titular Rabbit (the brother), an animated version of the stuffed toy the children often play with. The Rabbit’s purpose is to save his sick/sad flower friend (a representation of the sister).
The game then relinquishes control back to the player, and the hunt begins.
Where the Wild Things Aren’t
My Brother Rabbit is almost exclusively a hidden-object style game. In each scene, you can interact with nearly any object that you see. Not all objects will activate, but most will at least respond to your prodding with a little jiggle. When you interact with certain objects, the item will come to the foreground, then pop over to a bubble in the top right corner of a screen with a counter underneath. This indicates that you need to find several more of these objects throughout the area that you’re in.
An area can have multiple scenes in which items hide. For example, in the first area you begin in the Rabbit’s hut, but you are free to travel to the land just above his hut, as well as a few scenes over to the right. Keep an eye on your item in the bubble up top when you’re in any scene; if your item is coloured in, it means that item is somewhere on the screen. If it’s greyed out, you’ve already claimed all of those items for that particular scene.
In addition to hidden objects, there are also occasional puzzles that you’ll have to solve once you’ve collected all of the items for an area. A lot of these puzzles seemed to revolve around colour coordination, akin to solving a Rubik’s cube, though not nearly as time-consuming. And it did give me a bit of an ego-boost each time I correctly solved one.
Unfortunately, some of these objects are a bit too well hidden. It didn’t take long for me to get stuck, after a half hour or so of searching in vain. My Brother Rabbit is certainly a game that requires a patient player, or at least one who doesn’t mind randomly clicking throughout the screen in the vague hope that they’ll trigger an action (that’s me). And there are no hints at all if you find yourself stuck. Once I finally was able to move past my first quagmire, I inevitably became stuck again. And again. And on my third or fourth stop, I decided that it would be in the best interest of my own mental health and the health of those around me if I just stepped away from the console for a while.
The Land of Make-Believe
While fairly tedious, the game is gorgeous to look at. The scenery is outlandish, straight from the imagination of a whimsical child. The make-believe world and its rounded edges, colourful backdrops, and friendly characters also contrasts with the hand-drawn, sharp-edged depictions of reality we see in the beginning scenes.
My Brother Rabbit is an attempt by a child to understand and make sense of what’s happening to his sister. And not only is he trying to understand what’s happening, but he is actively “saving her” in his imagination. It portrays illness and suffering through the lens of a child, and the story unfolds in a way that is… well, childlike – good vs evil, hero vs villain.
The music, however, is quite lovely. It’s eerie, with shades of melancholy, and even jaunty at times, and really ties the whole mood of the game together neatly.
So, do you like Where’s Wally? Do you like Rubik’s cube-style puzzles? Then this might just be the game for you!