UPDATE – 19/05/2020
We updated this review with our opinion on the PlayStation VR version of the game – you can check this out at the bottom of the review.
I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures I’ve had in the likes of Moss, Ghost Giant, and The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets… basically, I’m a big fan of virtual reality titles that give you fantastic diorama style worlds to explore. Naturally then, Down the Rabbit Hole appealed to me from the get-go, with its Alice in Wonderland-inspired escapade seeing you interacting with a charming world whilst leading a young girl on a colourful journey. With its blend of puzzling and exploration, it really makes for something special too – even if it doesn’t really offer anything that you wouldn’t have seen done before in the wonderful world of virtual reality from a gameplay perspective.
Whilst the title of the game might suggest otherwise, Down the Rabbit Hole doesn’t actually put you in the shoes of Alice. Instead, you play as an unnamed girl whose journey will be familiar to those that know Lewis Carroll’s tale well, with plenty of the same characters and sights showing up throughout. You still fall down a mysterious hole and meet a rabbit too, except he’s not LATE for anything. Instead, he had been preparing invitations for the Queen’s party and you broke your fall by landing on them, causing them all to get scattered across Wonderland. You’ve got to help him find them, all whilst also looking for your missing pet that sent you on this adventure in the first place.
You actually get to make a few narrative choices as you progress through the Down the Rabbit Hole that allow you to shape the story in your own different ways, whilst there are also multiple endings to unlock that vary based upon the amount of invitations that you managed to find. It’s a neat incentive to re-play the game after completing it, though the puzzling elements do lose their charm after you’ve solved them the first time around. It’s a bit of a shame, because the game is easily beaten in under two hours – it would have been nice to have had a bit more to play through.
The core gameplay mechanics of Down the Rabbit Hole see the player leading this girl across Wonderland, with the world essentially wrapping around them across 360-degrees as she slowly makes her way further down. The sense of scale that comes with this is actually pretty impressive, with players able to look upwards to see a night sky and feel a real sense of depth as to how far down the hole they’ve actually travelled.
You’ll control the girl with the left control-stick, whilst she can also perform simple interactions with a press of the A button – these are always clearly labelled for you, so they never feel too complicated. However, whilst the girl might be the star of the show, you’ll also play a big role in interacting with the environment too. Using the controllers as hands, you’re able to grab at objects in the environment yourself, whether that’s when solving puzzles or creating new pathways. There are invitations hidden in the environment too, so if you notice a slight crack in a wall don’t be afraid to give it a bit of a nudge to smash it open.
The puzzles in the game are all pretty straight-forward, with the player using a combination of the objects in the environment and the girl’s movements to get through them. Sometimes it might be a case of unlocking a door by interacting with clocks, pulling at platforms to make a pathway, teaming up with a playing card to unravel a puzzle, using some gardeners’ different abilities to get into the Queen’s castle, or even simply unlocking chests by examining the environment to discover the passcode. Interactions with those chests take place from the girl’s first-person perspective, which gives you a closer look at the world to try and uncover the passcode – Down the Rabbit Hole certainly isn’t short on environmental details within its fascinating and beautiful world, so these instances felt particularly neat.
Whilst the puzzles are varied, they’re rarely difficult so you won’t be stumped for too long when trying to solve them. It’s also indicated how many invitations are left to be found in an area too, and whilst some may elude you for some time, you’ll always have a basic idea of where to look. Basically, Down the Rabbit Hole isn’t a tough game. Fortunately, that doesn’t stop it from being a lot of fun, whether that’s when solving the puzzles, searching every nook and cranny for an invitation, or simply admiring the charming world. Still, it’s probably worth noting that despite being enjoyable, Down the Rabbit Hole doesn’t really offer anything that you wouldn’t have seen done before – none of the puzzles felt particularly original, whilst the exploration mechanics also felt familiar after playing similar games in the past. It’s not a bad thing at all, but it’s something worth noting.
[PlayStation VR Version – Added 19/05/2020]
Whilst I initially reviewed Down the Rabbit Hole on the Oculus Quest, I also got the chance to go hands-on with the game on PlayStation VR. I’m happy to report that it feels just as fun to play on Sony’s VR headset, with almost all aspects of the game feeling on par with the Oculus Quest version.
The visuals are near enough the same, though they did feel a little bit cleaner on the Oculus Quest – this wasn’t a hugely significant difference though, so PlayStation VR players will definitely find themselves incredibly impressed by the beauty of the world.
Control-wise, you’re limited to just the DualShock 4 controller, but it’s certainly more than adequate as far as traversing each environment is concerned. Sure, it might not necessarily feel as dynamic as grabbing and pulling your way down the ‘rabbit hole’ using the separate controllers of the Oculus Quest, but it still feels great to control the protagonist whilst interacting with the game world yourself firsthand.
Overall, Down the Rabbit Hole is incredibly easy to recommend to PlayStation VR gamers and it proved just as charming to play on the platform as it did on Oculus Quest.
Down the Rabbit Hole was a delight to play, with its charming world and enjoyable gameplay mechanics making for a fun virtual reality adventure.
It’s not particularly challenging and it isn’t necessarily the most original experience from a gameplay perspective, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the more endearing escapades I’ve had with my Oculus Quest headset for some time. Just don’t expect to spend TOO long with it…
Developer: Cortopia Studios
Publisher: Cortopia Studios
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed, PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive