If you’ve read any reviews of Artifex Mundi titles on this site in the past, you’ll know that there’s a fairly expected formula that games developed and published by this studio follow. Typically these titles are told from a first person perspective, include a plot rooted in a particular mythology, a strong female protagonist, and a beautifully illustrated setting. Only one aspect of the classic “Artifex Mundi formula” has found its way to their latest title, My Brother Rabbit.
My Brother Rabbit focuses on beautifully illustrating (there it is!) the experience of a young family and the camaraderie between siblings that grows in the face of adversity. During a seemingly pleasant day for the family the youngest child, a toddler girl, is suddenly stricken by a mysterious illness. During her first hospital stay her older brother gives her an overall clad plush bunny. This bunny becomes the playable representation of the bother, while the little sister is portrayed as a sickly flower bud. Sketchily illustrated cut scenes detail the family’s experience with the younger child’s illness and how those events correlate with the events of the more painterly, hyper surreal world of the rabbit and flower.
For all of it’s changes to the Artifex Mundi formula, My Brother Rabbit is still a point and click adventure with hidden objects and a variety of puzzles that must be overcome to advance the story. However, the hidden object scenes do not simply present players with a jumbled mess of miscellaneous items to comb through. Players are instead presented with a puzzle that is missing a piece and then they must scour a few different scenes in order to acquire those pieces.
One puzzle may send players on a quest to locate gears scattered around an island, while another may need you to track down some soap in order to make a giant bubble. Some puzzles may only need three or four items to be found, while others will require players to locate upwards of seven or eight items like butterflies or flowers. Artifex Mundi does throw players a bone, however, so that you don’t simply spend hours staring down a scene looking for an elusive butterfly that isn’t there. If an item you are searching for is not available in the current scene you are viewing, then the item request is grayed out.
While there are plenty of new puzzle types to be found in My Brother Rabbit, there are also some puzzles that are going to stand out to fans of other Artifex Mundi titles. Alongside the aforementioned gear puzzle, where players have to connect a row of miscellaneously sized gear cogs to complete a functional row, players may also recognize a puzzle that has you connecting rotating pegs with color coded strings that can not overlap. While there is a rehash of some puzzle mechanics, its fair to say that My Brother Rabbit has enough variety in its presentation and story telling that these appearance of these puzzles feels more like a call out or homage than simply a rehash or recycling of old mechanics.
My Brother Rabbit is a touching, emotionally charged narrative about the bond between siblings and the struggle of a family facing childhood illness. The quirky, absurd world created inside the minds of the children as they process and make sense of their situation is charming and the overall experience is one that is easy to relate to. Coming in at roughly four hours of play time, the game is a bit short, but completion junkies may find the need to replay if they happen to miss some of the interactive collectibles.