Preview: Down the Rabbit Hole – A Enchanting Puzzle Wonderland
Alice’s tale never seems to get old.
Lewis Carroll’s famous book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland never fails to inspire, offering developers a rich tapestry to work with. There have already been several virtual reality (VR) titles inspired by the book such as Alice VR and House of Alice. Cortopia Studios (Wands) is now trying its hand, creating a puzzle adventure called Down the Rabbit Hole.
Demoing the title for the first time at Gamescom 2019, Down the Rabbit Hole takes Alice’s weird and wonderful adventures and creates something new and unique, yet still peppered with the characters and lore so many are familiar with.
The gameplay setup is similar in concept to titles like Spark of Light or even Ghost Giant (to a degree), where you find yourself in the middle of a cylindrical puzzle world. You control Alice through a series of rooms, each only appearing once the previous puzzle has been solved. Each room is a little diorama which can be peered into, either to help complete the puzzle or simply to admire the design work.
Once several of these rooms have been opened at select point roots start appearing, seemingly indicating that you happen to be viewing this fantastical world in a subterranean location. Yet these roots do serve a purpose, giving you the ability to turn or manoeuvre the world if required. Now, this wasn’t particularly needed for most of the demo thanks to the versatility of the Oculus Quest. For other headsets or when playing seated this feature should prove to be particularly useful.
Down the Rabbit Hole isn’t just about controlling the small Alice character through a series of puzzle rooms, however. At points, you’ll find yourself transported into these very locations and cinematic cut scenes build the story, with the likes of the Cheshire Cat or the Caterpillar appearing to offer their sagely and confusing advice.
The puzzles themselves also require a mixture of techniques. The demo went from solving a riddle in the fake King of Spade’s chambers to completing a musical challenge by hitting the correct sequence of flowers with your hands. That’s nice to see in Down the Rabbit Hole is this mixture of third-person character gameplay and first-person puzzle-solving. This gives a genuine hands-on approach to the experience, helping connect you to this bizarre world which is unfolding before your eyes.
Cortopia Studios has also ensured the videogame makes for a comfortable experience that anyone could pick up and play thanks to it being entirely stationary. Unlike the cuter, The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets which features fairly easy puzzles, Down the Rabbit Hole will likely offer a greater challenge. None of the puzzles shown were too difficult, just requiring a little more time and thought.
From what was shown Down the Rabbit Hole is going to be a delightful little puzzle adventure. The gameplay uses the characteristics of VR in all the right ways, from all-encompassing scenes to deliver the story to lots of interactive elements that can be grabbed and pulled. It’s certainly a change from Wands, let’s just hope there’s enough content for a proper wonderland adventure.