PAX East 2019: The Rabbit and The Owl – First Impressions

This year’s PAX East felt like the year of notable, uniquely envisioned co-op games, and The Rabbit and The Owl from Formal Sheep was no exception. We’re not complaining, either—after what felt like a drought of visionary co-op for a number of years, creators are coming out in full force with refreshing takes on what it means to solve puzzles together.

The Rabbit and The Owl is a co-op puzzle platformer with a focus on negative space. The world has a hand-painted aesthetic, and players are tasked with manipulating the environment to bring their characters from the starting line to a finishing target.

The Rabbit character is trapped within a light area and can only move within that space. The Owl is in the dark, and both characters have unique abilities that can assist or hinder (not ideal, this is co-op) the other player in getting to their end target. Each character has to move through their own pathway — they’re on the same screen together, but the screen is divided by light and dark. Essentially, there are two puzzles in each level, but what one character does on their own side can and will affect how the character can progress on the opposite side. The aim of the game is for these characters to navigate these nearly 50 different levels in order to reunite at the end.

The artist for the game wanted to provide a visual contrast of the stark landscapes with organic plants and animals, and use color to signal items within the level environments. Because most of the world is set in black and white, the appearance of anything organic or colorful stands out in a significant way. The background music has a similar feel to it—stark but also soothing, designed so that the players can relax into the moment and focus on solving the puzzles together.

It’s one of those titles that, instead of offering up flashy, aggressive co-op designed to cause playful bickering, asks players to thoughtfully solve problems together. The visuals and the ambient sound connect you to the moment—at first glance, it seems so basic that it shouldn’t be intriguing or compelling, but it really, really is.

Coming to Switch sometime after release on other consoles and PC (we’ll keep you posted).


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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